The contrasting emotions of the two coaches were stark after Geylang United had beaten Hougang United 2-0 at Bedok Stadium on Wednesday night.For embattled Geylang coach, Kanan Vedhamuthu, it was joy and relief, while for vanquished Hougang United coach, Alex Weaver, it was frustration that led to him admitting that he was ‘gutted’ by his team’s defeat.
Geylang had struggled to contain Hougang United for at least an hour before Eagles’ captain, Jozef Kaplan, unleashed an unstoppable pile-driver that broke the deadlock of what had been a tense 0-0 draw until the 66th minute.
There was no shortage of goalmouth action, with the visiting Cheetahs going close on countless occasions.
But most of the time, there to stop them was the impressive Geylang keeper, Joey Sim, who made many saves, as well as mostly collecting everything that hung in the air and threatened danger.
But Hougang were right out of luck, though Weaver said he was reluctant to use luck, or any lack of it, as an excuse.
“Things are just not running for us,” he said.
“Geylang put bodies behind the ball and made it hard for us, it’s so frustrating, as we did nothing wrong out there tonight."
“It’s not as if we have to correct anything, we had many, many chances, the players gave it everything, they were fantastic,” he enthused.
“I am sure we can turn it around as the players are a great bunch of lads and they are training so well. Unfortunately we have a long break to our next game.
“I’m sure the boys want to go out and play again soon, but they can’t, as there is no game for us until April 9.
“We conceded one goal, when we switched off momentarily. One player got caught out of position, unfortunately. The second goal I can’t blame on anyone as we were chasing the game in the last minute and I had told the players to push up. Shots of ours were blocked on the line and I really don’t know how Geylang survived."
Weaver also explained the sudden exclusion of Beattie from the starting line-up after having the warm-up.
“Before the game Tom (Beattie), who had been battling the flu, told me he was unable to play the full 90 minutes and I didn’t want to sacrifice a substitute so I changed him before the kick-off," he added.
Geylang coach Kanan attributed his team’s success partly to the contributions of his second-half substitutes.
“Duncan (Elias) came on and was involved in the first goal with Jalal, who I had pushed forward, then Wahyudi (Wahid) was involved in the second goal and so was the scorer, Khairulnizam Jumahat," explained the clearly delighted Eagles coach.
Kanan explained how he came to bring on Wahyudi: “He was a member of my successful Prime League side, in 2011, but then he decided to stop playing and change careers, working in a shipyard instead. After he saw how many of his old team mates were playing, after being promoted to S.League, he got a taste for playing again and paid back his bond at the shipyard."
“He is not really fit yet, but once he is he’ll be getting more game time for sure. Tonight everyone worked very hard against Hougang, who have quality foreigners. I must give credit to the boys as it was a real team effort.
“I don’t like singling out players, but of course Kaplan was one I cannot overlook and Joey is making the most of his chance as he is playing well and I don’t have to select all of my foreigners if my local keeper is the man in form."
Kanan also briefly touched on star player Ihata's indifferent performance, admitting he was not sure what was the concern with the forward.
“I’m not sure what is wrong with Shotaro Ihata at the moment, he does not seem quite right," claimed Kanan.
"I think he may need medical treatment, but until the other players come back from injury I will have to keep playing him."