Geylang International takes on Warriors FC on Sunday at Bedok Stadium knowing that a win would move them up the Singapore Premier League (SPL) table ahead of their opponents.
Sunday will be a chance for Geylang to leapfrog Warriors in the table and put themselves firmly back into the conversation to secure a fifth spot in the table, something they surely would not have been thinking of after the first few games of the season.
But as it stands, a Balestier Khalsa side besieged by injuries and an inconsistent Warriors team has seen Geylang put themselves within touching distance of a mid-table finish.
The spot is currently occupied by Balestier, who have 17 points, while Warriors are two points behind in the sixth spot. The Eagles are in seventh currently wth 14 points. A victory would put them level with Balestier, and more importantly, the Eagles have a game in hand too.
Securing fifth would represent somewhat of a successful season for the Bedok side – particularly given the poor start that the team had.
As it stands, the Eagles would certainly be marching into the pitch with confidence. Afterall, they had secured a 3-1 win over Young Lions two weeks ago, ending a streak of three straight defeats. Last week against Hougang United, they had been doing well until the game was called off due to torrential rain.
The Eagles have had the upperhand against Warriors as well this year, having not lost in two meetings. In the last match in May, Geylang goalkeeper Zainol Gulam pulled off a man-of-the-match performance to help his team to a win over his former club.
But Zainol believes his side cannot get hung up on that result, given that Warriors are a team with dangerous players who have the ability to change a game.
“They have many quality players … and Jonathan Behe has been scoring goals and is back to his top form,” said the 26-year-old.
“Our main focus is obviously the three points but in order for us to attain that, we have to give our maximum efforts and make the chances count upfront.
“Coach (Hirotaka) Usui demands a lot from us so we’ve been working hard as usual. We have to stay compact as a unit and also deal with their aerial threats and pace upfront.”
For Warriors though, they will be looking to bounce back into form having lost their last three matches.
Veteran Ismadi Mukhtar saidit was “really hard on the players” as the three wins prior to their losing streak had boosted morale within the team.
“To play three games in a matter of 10 days against tough opponents like DPMM away, Home United and Albirex took its toll on us,” he said. “We have to keep working hard as a team and believe that we can beat any teams we are facing… every game is important to us, we want to try to get the three points no matter who our opponents are.”
The utility player, who has seen playing time in a various positions in defence and midfield this year added: “We are also chasing the teams above us and want to improve our standings in the league table, so we are definitely hungry for the win as well.”
Geylang will be missing Shawal Anuar, who joins captain Anders Aplin on the treatment table for the rest of the year.
Warriors will not be able to count on the services of Ignatius Ang, who injured his ankle last week.
20/05/18: Warriors 0-2 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
04/04/18: Geylang 1-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
15/09/17: Warriors 0-2 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
16/06/17: Geylang 0-2 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
10/03/17: Warriors 1-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Geylang – Fairoz Hasan
The midfielder has had his best season in a while this year. With five goals and three assists, he is the player who has been involved in the most goals for Geylang, and is simply playing with confidence right now. With Shawal out, Fairoz will have a bigger responsibility in the team now.
Warriors – Ho Wai Loon
The defender turned playmaker has been one of the brightest spark for Warriors this year. Full of energy, Ho has made the midfield position his own and is always eager to get things going for his side. Against a resilient Geylang team, Ho might be the difference maker on Sunday.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Geylang goalkeeper Zainol: “I’m always pumped up for any games I’m playing. All I’m focused on now is doing my best for my team and give my 100 per cent if I’m selected to play. I know it won’t be easy this time but I hope we can get the three points.
“We won’t be with our main man Shawal, but Fairoz has been in good form upfront to provide us with the goals, and it’s time for young players like Zikos (Chua) to step in as well.”
Warriors defender Ismadi: During the first two encounters, Shawal was a menacing presence for our defence throughout the match. But Geylang have other good players that we need to lookout for, so the focus is never on Shawal alone.”