Should Geylang International fall to Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) on Sunday, it will make it 10 eastern derby matches without a win for the Eagles.
Tampines have been the dominant force when it comes to the Eastern Derby in recent years but with Geylang soaring with confidence, this could be a tight affair at Bedok Stadium.
BACKGROUND: In the first Eastern Derby of the season, it was Tampines Rovers who came away with a resounding 3-1 victory, thanks to a Jordan Webb brace and a penalty from Khairul Amri.
Geylang International, quite simply, were no match for the Stags in all aspects, with head coach Hirotaka Usui even admitting that there was a “mismatch of tactics”.
But the Eagles appeared to have turned the corner, having won their last two matches and are unbeaten in three games.
A win against Tampines will see Geylang overtake their rivals in the Singapore Premier League standings. But it will be no easy task, given that they have not won in nine straight league matches against their upcoming opponents.
That is a stat Geylang defender Jufri Taha is aware of, having spent the previous eight years donning Tampines’ colours.
“Whilst I was on the other end, I realised that record and before those games I wanted to keep that intact,” explained Jufri. “This Sunday, I hope that changes.”
The 33-year-old is also ready to cast all sentiments and memories aside come Sunday to help his team achieve that.
“Being here now, I am just focused to give my best for the Eagles, put on a good showing, and hope we get ourselves a deserving result,” he said.
Geylang’s upturn in fortunes has not gone unnoticed in the Tampines camp, according to winger Zulfadhmi Suzliman, who said the pressure will definitely be on if his side lose their second straight game on Sunday. He has called on the team to put the disappointing defeat to Albirex Niigata (S) last week – their second of the season – behind them and bounce back on Sunday.
“That was just unlucky for us … but nevertheless, we always look forward for the upcoming games and continue to do well,” he said.
Geylang will continue to miss captain Anders Aplin, while defender Darren Teh is a doubt for the game. Otherwise, they have a clean bill of health.
As for Tampines, they will be missing Amri and Fahrudin Mustafic through suspension. Shannon Stephen and Safirul Sulaiman continue to miss out through injury, while Irfan Najeeb and Irwan Shah are doubtful for the game.
07/04/18: Tampines 3-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
15/10/17: Geylang 2-3 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
11/07/17: Tampines 1-4 Geylang – League Cup
29/06/17: Tampines 1-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
08/04/17: Geylang 0-4 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Geylang – Shawal Anuar
The forward has scored four goals in his last three games, and is a player brimming with confidence right now – and that can only mean bad news for defenders in the league.
Against Warriors last week, he tortured his opponents with his pace and stretched the backline time and again. Against Tampines, he will be counted upon by his team to do more of the same.
Tampines – Fazrul Nawaz
With Amri still unavailable, Fazrul will be counted upon to deliver the goods. He certainly did deliver the last time out, notching a goal and an assist each, but it was not meant to be.
But a repeat of his performance may well give Tampines the cutting edge in this game.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Geylang defender Jufri: “From the beginning I’ve emphasised to my teammates how strong and good they actually are. It’s the faith and belief amongst the people involved with the club, the hardwork the players put in at training day in, day out… it’s just us, showing up as who we are now.”
Tampines winger Zulfadhmi: “If they win, that definitely will put pressure on us, but we still have a few games in hand. I believe the team will want to bounce back and get the win after the loss to Albirex.
“We have always stuck to the same game plan and we just need to play as per normal – our own style of football – to win the game on Sunday and also the upcoming games”.