Geylang United 3 Jozef Kaplan 45’, Stefan Milojevic 83’
Tampines Rovers 0
Tampines Rovers’ dreams of a domestic treble were crushed as a resurgent Geylang United upset them with a 2-0 triumph in the semi-final of the League Cup, notching their fourth win on the trot in the competition.
Mid-season signing Stefan Milojevic was the hero for the Eagles as the Serbian striker made one goal and scored the other to lead his side to victory.
The Stags started off strongly with Ahmad Latiff shooting over after only a minute, followed by both Jamil Ali and Gligor Gligorov also trying their luck from range as well.
Led by the trio of Milojevic, Michael King and Jozef Kaplan, Geylang slowly started to get back into the game as they saw more of the ball, although they could not create any clear chances.
It took half an hour for the first real opportunity of the game to arrive as Jamil feinted past two defenders in the box before toe-poking his shot just wide of the far post.
Mustafic Fahrudin went even closer five minutes later, curling a freekick against the post from twenty yards out.
Geylang took a surprise lead on the stroke on half-time though.
Milojevic took a pass and swivelled to play Kaplan through with a beautiful ball, and the Slovakian midfielder made no mistake as he slid a neat finish beneath the onrushing Sasa Dreven.
Tampines had a great chance to equalise twenty minutes into the second half, but Jamil Ali produced a contender for miss-of-the-season.
Faced with an open goal, the forward somehow contrived to shoot wide from two yards after Ahmad Latiff had squared the ball back to him.
Moments later, Ridhuan Barudin then had to be alert to tip over a header from Sead Hadzibulic as the striker got on the end of a cross from Aleksandar Duric.
Jalal then cleared a shot off the line with Ridhuan scrambling to get back, as Tampines piled on the pressure.
But the Eagles hit them with a sucker-punch in the 83rd minute as they extended their lead with a beautiful goal.
Milojevic latched onto King’s ball down the left byline and cut in towards goal before neatly stepping inside a covering defender and curling a right-footed finish beyond the goalkeeper into the far corner.
That was enough to see Geylang through, as audible cheers of celebration rang out from the Eagles supporters as the final whistle went off.
Tampines coach Steven Tan bemoaned the toll that fatigue took on his team, who looked a little more sluggish than usual.
“The Albirex game (on Sunday) took all the energy from us, but the players tried their best.
“The first goal more or less killed us; if we had scored earlier, it would have been a different ball-game.”
The former Singapore international was gracious enough to give credit to Geylang for their effective tactics, and said that his side would have to focus on the league now.
“They played to their game-plan and they caught us (out) twice… the counter-attacks from Geylang punished us.
“All the best to Geylang (in the final), and we will recharge and look forward to the league.”
Smiling from ear-to-ear, Geylang coach Vedhamuthu Kanan told the media that he believed his side’s hard work is starting to show.
“The work when I started (when I came in) until now, it has paid off during this League Cup… Today I thought we defended well and Tampines couldn’t penetrate.
“I told my players that in this Cup, we are the best team because Tampines conceded five goals and we only conceded one. Everyone thought in our group that we would be last, but we became champions. So this is the inspiration I gave the players… Credit to my players, I thought they did an excellent job.”
Looking ahead to the final, he emphasized the importance of teamwork but also expressed confidence about his team’s chances against Brunei DPMM.
“I always tell them, it’s about teamwork. We don’t have individual players, but if we work as a team, defensively and offensively, I think we can take any team in the league. We took on (and beat) the top two and we are bottom of the table; I cannot ask for any more from the players.
“Of course I am very optimistic and very confident because if we can do it in four games, including the top two teams, and beat them, I think we can take DPMM.”
The final of the Starhub League Cup between Brunei DPMM and Geylang United will be played on Saturday, 11th August at Jalan Besar Stadium with kick-off scheduled at 8.45p.m.
Geylang: Ridhuan Barudin, Nurhazwan Norasikin (Mun Seung Man 74’), Shahril Alias, Syed Fadhil (C), Jalal (Khayrulhayat Jumat 81’), Jozef Kaplan, Shah Hirul, Fabian Kwok, Ang Zhiwei, Michael King, Stefan Milojevic (Mubarak Ahamad 88’).
Unused subs: Yazid Yasin, Ishak Zainol, Rizawan Abdullah, Amy Recha Pristifana.
Tampines: Sasa Dreven, Jufri Taha, Anaz Hadee (Benoit Croissant 67’), Mustafic Fahrudin, Sazali Salleh (Noh Alam Shah 67’), Ahmad Latiff, Gligor Gligorov, Imran Sahib, Aleksandar Duric, Sead Hadzibulic, Jamil Ali.
Unused subs: Hafez Mawasi, Hairulnazri Hanafi, Ismadi Mukhtar, Ahmed Fahmie, Fazil Zailani.
Yellow cards: Sazali Salleh (Tampines); Jalal, Mun Seung Man (both Geylang).
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