Geylang International must plug their defensive loopholes to avoid another five-goal embarrassment at the hands of Albirex Niigata FC (S) on Sunday.
Albirex Niigata (S) FC are hoping to continue their march towards the Singapore Premier League (SPL) title as they travel across the island to face Geylang International at Bedok Stadium on Sunday.
It has been nearly a year since Albirex tasted defeat, after Hougang United FC managed a 2-1 league victory over them on 3 July, 2017 at Hougang Stadium.
Since then, no one seems to have a clue on how to stop the White Swans, as they embarked on a 32-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Nobody is expecting that run to end any time soon, not when Albirex’s next opponents are second-from-bottom Geylang.
The Eagles have had a stop-start season so far, losing eight games out of the 13 played. Much of this can be attributed to their woeful defensive displays after leaking in 31 goals in 13 games – the worst record in the league currently.
As if confidence was not already at a premium, a 6-2 loss to Brunei DPMM FC two weeks ago compounded matters and it told in Geylang’s last round 2-0 loss to Home United.
Even recent history seems to suggest Geylang will find the going tough. The White Swans have beaten Geylang each time in their last six encounters, trouncing them by a five-goal margin in the last three.
Albirex do need to be wary though. Their game against Tampines Rovers FC, which ended in a 4-3 win, showed that this Japanese side have weaknesses that could be exploited. Only a stunner by Daiki Asaoka then thwarted the Stags’ valiant efforts.
The Jurong East outfit too has not played a game in two weeks and that might have disrupted their momentum.
Shun Kumagai will miss out for Albirex but there is good news on Adam Swandi as the Singapore international seems set for a return, albeit with a place on the bench.
Anders Aplin has returned to training for Geylang but this game might be too early for him. Ryan Syaffiq is a doubt after he suffered a knock in the match with Home United.
Geylang International FC: WLWLL
Albirex Niigata (S) FC: WWWWW
28/04/18: Albirex 5-0 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
17/11/17: Geylang 2-7 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
05/08/17: Albirex 5-0 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
18/07/17: Albirex 4-0 Geylang – League Cup
11/05/17: Geylang 0-1 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Yuki Ichikawa (Geylang International)
More than ever, Geylang will need Ichikawa to lead the backline against the relentless Albirex. The defender has been with Geylang since 2014, after moving over from the White Swans and he might know a trick or two to stop his former club.
Kenya Takahashi (Albirex Niigata)
A converted left-back that can hit the ball with utmost precision, Takahashi is well on his way towards meeting his target of scoring five set-pieces after hitting in two. If Geylang were to play defensively, then he could well decide the tie with a well-hit deadball.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Geylang International FC Defender Darren Teh: “It’s important for me to be playing regularly and getting more exposure at the highest level in Singapore. I’m thankful to be part of every single minute thus far for the club. We definitely didn’t start the season well but I think we as a team have been improving as the season goes by and we are raring to go.
“It wasn’t easy at the start as we all know, Geylang undergone a massive turnaround and only three players were retained. As a team, we had to gel as quickly as possible and also as an individual I had to step up more as a leader for the younger players in the club.
“Without a doubt, Albirex are the strongest in our league currently. However I think the pressure this coming Sunday will be on them to deliver and we’re definitely going into the game as underdogs. I’m sure our coach will have a game plan for us and hopefully if we execute it perfectly I’m sure collectively as a team we’ll definitely be able to grind out a result together.”
Albirex Niigata (S) FC Defender Kenya Takahashi: “To play all 12 games without being substituted off and contributing to the team makes me proud of my current form. However, I feel that it is more important that the team wins more than my personal results.
“Of course, as each game we win, the confidence starts flowing. However, head coach always keeps us grounded. We know that we have to improve more because each one of us wants to play football at a higher level.”