Shahfiq scores, Eagles soar
Geylang striker scores one and sets up another just as he was about to be substituted
|(Shahfiq Ghani 78, Shawal Anuar 86)|
Shahfiq Ghani was on the verge of being substituted at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium last night, after toiling tirelessly up front without reward for almost 78 minutes.
But, as reserve striker Ifwat Ismail waited on the touchline, next to a fourth official clutching a board displaying his and Shahfiq's jersey numbers, Shahfiq broke the deadlock.
Ghosting in behind a static Warriors FC defence, the 25-year-old Geylang International forward beat goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at to the ball, before blasting into an open goal. With that, Geylang coach Mohd Noor Ali summoned Ifwat back to the bench. A wise decision, too, as Shafiq proved that he wasn't done yet.
Eight minutes later, he delivered an inch-perfect cross for Shawal Anuar to head home and seal a 2-0 win over the Warriors in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League match.
Job done, Shahfiq finally made way for Ifwat two minutes from time.
Tongue firmly in cheek, Noor Ali said: "I was about to take Shahfiq off because I thought he was starting to look tired, but I guess he was not too tired to make that run for the goal!
"Maybe he made that run after he saw Ifwat preparing to come on... but seriously, he was running and worked hard for the whole game."
In a match where the Warriors saw plenty of the ball, Shahfiq showed the opponents the cutting edge they were lacking.
Noor Ali praised his player, highlighting his growing importance to the team.
He said: "I'm happy for Shahfiq, he needed that goal.
"He did not feature early on when I took over (in July) but, in the last three games, he has been a key player for us. And he's done well."
Last night's result was Geylang's third win and third clean sheet on the trot. It enabled them to leapfrog the Warriors into fourth place on the league table.
Despite the Warriors having the lion's share of possession, they did not provide much of a threat to Geylang goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari.
Visitors Geylang, on the other hand, managed to carve the opposing defence time and again, but wasteful finishing from Shawal and Costa Rican striker Victor Coto prevented the team from registering a bigger win.
Noor Ali feels that the Warriors can have no complaints about the outcome.
"It was a well-deserved result, we deserved this 100 per cent," he said.
"We played brilliantly.
"We were cautious of the Warriors because they have players like Shahril Ishak and Jordan Webb, but all my players gave solid performances.
"Every player in this team worked hard and showed he wanted to do well."
Azlan Alipah was on the touchline in place of Warriors head coach Razif Onn, who was absent because he is on a pilgrimage. After the match, he rued his team's bad luck in the final third of the pitch.
Said Azlan: "We kept the ball well in the second half, but the lapses in concentration resulted in two quick goals, and that killed our morale.
"Sometimes this season, we just don't have the luck.
"You can see our players do a lot of things and score many beautiful goals in training but, during matches, the ball just won't go in."
WARRIORS: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Emmeric Ong, Kento Fukuda, Baihakki Khaizan, Ho Wai Loon, Hafiz Nor (Ridhuan Muhammad 71), Syaqir Sulaiman, Shaiful Esah (Firdaus Kasman 76), Jordan Webb, Shahril Ishak, Andrei Ciolacu
GEYLANG: Syazwan Buhari, Faritz Hameed, Anders Aplin, Yuki Ichikawa, Darren Teh, Gabriel Quak (Amy Recha 69), Nor Azli Yusoff (Isa Halim 46), Ricardo Sendra, Shawal Anuar, Shahfiq Ghani (Ifwat Ismail 88), Victor Coto
LAST NIGHT'S OTHER MATCH:
- HOUGANG UNITED 2 GARENA YOUNG LIONS 1