An inspiring performance from goalkeeper Zainol Gulam helped Geylang International to a 2-0 win over Warriors FC in the Singapore Premier League on Sunday.
Fumiya Kogure and Shawal Anuar scored the goals, but Zainol Gulam was the real hero with his stunning display between the sticks helping Geylang International to a 2-0 win over Warriors FC at the Singapore National Stadium on Sunday night.
The 26-year-old produced a series of impressive saves in the second half to keep his old side at bay as Geylang picked up a second straight SPL win to go seventh in the table.
The result meant Mirko Grabovac’s Warriors are still waiting for their first win of the season after nine matches as they drop to eighth.
Warriors had started off the more enterprising of the two sides and almost scored after just three minutes. Emmeric Ong’s right-wing cross was only half-cleared into the path of Sahil Suhaimi, but the latter could only curl wide from the edge of the box.
Geylang would, however, be the team to break the deadlock in the 13th minute. With Fairoz Hasan drawing Hafiz Sulaiman into a silly foul inside the box, Kogure stepped up to send Warriors goalkeeper Mukundan Muran the wrong way from 12 yards out for his first goal in Eagles colours.
Warriors worked hard to get back into the game thereafter, but were limited to a couple of hopeful shots from range.
Geylang then almost scored again on 36 minutes, with Fuad Ramli seeing his close-range snapshot denied by Mukundan after being teed up by the effervescent Shawal Anuar.
Just seconds later, there was action at the other end with Jonathan Behe volleying over wastefully after taking down Ong’s deep cross.
Failure to put that chance away would cost the Warriors dearly as Geylang doubled their lead three minutes into the second half.
Kogure’s free-kick into the area was flicked onto the path of Zulfadli Zainal. The latter’s resulting shot was blocked on the line by Ismadi Mukhtar, but Shawal was on hand to convert the rebound.
That goal woke Warriors up from their slumber as they dominated large periods of the second half, but was denied by a combination of superb goalkeeping and bad luck.
Zainol thwarted Sahil in a one-on-one opportunity on 58 minutes, before tipping the latter’s goal-bound free-kick around the post a minute later.
Behe then looked set to convert from substitute Shamil Sharif’s left-wing cross 11 minutes later, but his header came off the underside of the crossbar before bouncing to safety.
Zainol continued his sparking form in goal thereafter, with the pick of the bunch being a stunning reflex save to tip over Sahil’s wonderous volley from just outside the box.
The 26-year-old then denied Behe on another three occasions – prompting cheers of “there’s only one Zainol Gulam” from the boisterous Ultra Eagles supporters – but it looked like he would not keep a clean sheet when his side conceded a penalty deep into injury time.
Behe stepped up after Sahil was brought down by substitute Ryson Yap, but the French forward’s penalty crashed off the right-hand post to the dismay of the Warriors supporters as Geylang went home with the three points.
Hirotaka Usui’s men will look to extend their unbeaten run to four when they host Tampines Rovers FC next Sunday, while Warriors will look to end their poor form as they face Young Lions away a night earlier.
Warriors FC Head Coach Mirko Grabovac: “In the first half we had problems and we needed a lot of time to wake up. We must be concentrated and cannot make a penalty like that. He (Hafiz) has the ball and want to hit it, but the player comes and he hit the player.
“But in the last 30 minutes, we played fantastic and created many 100 per cent chances but did not score. Even the penalty we could not score, what can I say?
“Today my team have over 50 crosses and you can calculate how many shots we have. Geylang’s goalkeeper is very good, but the reaction of my strikers is not very good. They must be more cool; they can kick low and no need always go for power. And also if Behe is 100 percent fit, he would have scored (at least) three.”
Geylang International FC Head Coach Hirotaka Usui: “We’re very lucky to have Zainol in this game and I’m proud of him. Against Young Lions, he made an easy mistake which cost us two points. But today he saved us maybe four or five times and we’re going to give him one big present.
“I was surprised Kento (Fukuda) can play because he told me before the game he needed two more weeks. The last 10 minutes was very dangerous, they had Kento and Behe – the twin towers – upfront and we only have Yuki (Ichikawa) in defence so it’s very difficult. We must not forget that our defenders worked very hard.
“Actually when we lost against Albirex (Niigata FC (S)), we lost 5-0 but the defending wasn’t so bad; it was just four to five individual mistakes. I just focused on (getting) the team tactics (right) and I’m happy we kept our first clean sheet today.
“Playing at the National Stadium is a big and important experience for our young players. Of course it’s the same ball, same pitch size but the atmosphere is different. I also want to credit today’s win to our kitman Abdul Latiff because it’s his birthday. He comes to work at 7am and only leaves at 8pm. At Geylang, we are a small club but every person does hard work for the club.”
Warriors FC: Mukundan Maran (GK), Emmeric Ong, Ismadi Mukhtar, Hafiz Sulaiman, Ho Wai Loon, Ammirul Emmran (Shamil Sharif 46’), Poh Yi Feng (C) (Kento Fukuda 73’), Tajeli Salamat (Suria Prakash 46’), Firdaus Kasman, Sahil Suhaimi, Jonathan Behe
Geylang International FC: Zainol Gulam (GK), Darren Teh, Jufri Taha, Danish Irfan (Ryson Yap 77’), Ryan Syaffiq, Yuki Ichikawa (C), Faud Ramli, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, Fumiya Kogure, Fairoz Hasan (Azhar Sairudin 61’), Shawal Anuar (Cameron Ayrton Bell 83’)