Geylang International can make a vital stride forward if they clinch all three points against Balestier Khalsa at Bedok Stadium on Wednesday.
The Eagles are currently second from bottom with 14 points but a win against the visitors can pull them to within two of Balestier with a game in hand.
No doubt, this is easier said than done. Balestier are unbeaten in their last three games and their most recent result came in a 1-1 draw with newly-crowned champions Albirex Niigata FC (S).
That was the first time the White Swans have ever dropped points this season and this will surely be a huge boost to the Tigers’ morale.
Geylang on the other hand will come into this fixture after a dismal 4-1 dismantling by Tampines Rovers. The Stags fully deserved the win and the score line was a fair reflection of how poor Geylang were in that game.
There ought to be confidence that they can still match Balestier and fight for a point though, given that one of the four wins they achieved this season came in a 2-1 win over said opponents.
That said, it must be wondered where the goals will come from for Geylang. Their top scorer Shawal Anuar is already out until next year February while second-top scorer Fairoz Hasan is suspended.
It might be safe to also assume that this game is unlikely to end in a stalemate too. In the last seven fixtures between these two teams, there has always been a victor.
As mentioned, Shawal will definitely miss out for Geylang, as will six-goal forward Fairoz Hasan after he picked up a booking against Tampines.
Zulfadli Zainal Abidin might sit out the game too due to injury but Danish Irfan has returned and is in contention for a place in the game.
According to Balestier’s officials, Raihan Rahmah, Khairuddin Omar and Sharin Majid are still out for the forseeable future. Nurullah Hussein will have to serve a one-game suspension too.
Keegan Linderboom and Vedran Mesec have returned to training but their participation in the game remains shrouded in doubt.
Geylang International FC: LLWLL
Balestier Khalsa FC: LLDDD
02/06/18: Balestier 1-2 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
14/04/18: Geylang 0-1 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
09/09/17: Geylang 2-0 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
08/07/17: Balestier 0-2 Geylang – League Cup
04/03/17: Geylang 2-0 Balestier – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Fumiya Kogure (Geylang International FC)
Much will be expected of Geylang’s leading foreign midfielder. After sparkling in the competition for several years, he appears to be struggling in this campaign.
With only one goal –from the penalty spot no less– and meagre return of two assists after playing in all of Geylang’s 17 league games, the Eagles will hope their star signing can fill in for the aforementioned missing Shawal and Fairoz.
Hazzuwan Halim (Balestier Khalsa FC)
Balestier Head Coach Marko Kraljevic backed the forward to steal the show against Albirex and that he did, sending a superb dipping volley into the back of the net to secure a point for Balestier.
With the expected continued absence of Linderboom, the Tigers will be relying on their nifty attacker to cause trouble once again.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Geylang International FC Goalkeeper Zainol Gulam: “Definitely results haven’t been to our favour, but we have to stay positive no matter what and we have been working hard despite the circumstances.
“Balestier definitely have one of the better defensive records if I’m not mistaken, and drawing against Albirex is definitely a great thing for them.
“But then again it’s a different ball game all around and anything can happen in football. We know what Balestier are capable of with players like Hazzuwan, Fadli Kamis, Huzaifah and some young players who are eager to prove themselves.
“Nonetheless, all we are focused on right now is ourselves, giving our maximum effort and of course getting the three.
“All I’m focused on is giving my best and 100 percent. The support from my family, the guidance from Hassan Sunny and the main man is definitely my goalkeeping coach, Narong Saiket. He is playing a huge part in my form and is always there to push me and find ways to help me improve. So it motivates me to always want to do better every single day and not take it for granted.”
Balestier Khalsa FC Defender Fadli Kamis: “It was hard to hold Albirex but all of us were very patient. We followed the game plan as instructed by coach and we did really well to hold against them.
“Yes of course we are proud because we’re the first team in the league to hold them this season. We’re really happy about the result.
“But it’s not going to be an easy game against Geylang to be honest. We are looking to climb the ladder as well so I’m sure we are going to give Geylang a good fight.
“We are confident. With the right mind and attitude, I’m sure we can do it.”