Geylang International will face a second tough fixture in just four days as they travel to the Jurong East Stadium to take on Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions Albirex Niigata S on Saturday.
There will be no respite for Geylang International, who come into the game against Albirex Niigata (S) following a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Home United on Wednesday.
The Eagles – with a depleted side – were unable to match Home at all and only a Darren Teh free-kick near the end of the match took some gloss of what was a near perfect performance from Home. And on Saturday, an even tougher opponent awaits.
Albirex have proved to be unbeatable, even on days when they aren’t performing up to their usual standards. Last Sunday, they were outplayed by Home, but found a late equaliser somehow to maintain their unbeaten record which now stands at 41 straight matches in all competition.
Their Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga made no attempts to hide his displeasure with his players after that game, and even hinted that his side have gotten complacent since sealing the title.
With the Singapore Cup still up for grabs, captain Wataru Murofushi urged the Japanese side to use that poor performance as a wakeup call.
“We have to improve”, said last week’s Young Player of the Week Murofushi. “I’ve told them to keep their focus before the match… We all know what we have to do before each match.
“We will do our best and put on a good performance for our home fans (on Saturday). However, we expect that Geylang will play a defensive game.”
As for Geylang, stand-in captain Jufri Taha called for his teammates to forget everything that happened in the Home defeat and “move on”.
“We have to forget about the game and try to prepare the best we can for the next game,” said Jufri.
When asked how the team plans to prepare against an even tougher team, Jufri said: “They are just another opponent to me, but it’s up to the guys to see how much they have left to end the season with. Hopefully, we can give them a good fight.”
That might be a mountain to climb though, seeing as how the Eagles have let in three goals or more in the last five matches against the White Swans. Already, they have conceded a whopping eight times in two meetings against the champions.
Furthermore, they will have to face Albirex with a number of key players missing. Jufri admitted that it will “affect” the team for sure.
“It won’t be right if I say it doesn’t affect us. It does affect, but we still have (other) players,” explained Jufri. “It’s up to the players to see how much they want to push (on Saturday).”
The Eagles will welcome back goalkeeper Basil Chan from suspension – a much needed boost considering how third-choice custodian Faris Danial has let in seven goals in the last two games. Zainol Gulam made the bench against Home, but is unlikely to start the game against Albirex as he continues to recover from injury.
Zulfadli Zainal is out for two weeks as well, joining long term absentee Shawal Anuar on the sidelines. Fumiya Kogure, who has missed the last two games, will also be unavailable for the clash against his former club. Umar Akhbar Ramle and Ryson Yap are likely to be out too.
Albirex should have an almost full squad for selection, with Kaishu Yamazki the only one unavailable.
24/06/18: Geylang 0-3 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
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 – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Shuhei Hoshino – Albirex
The Albirex striker failed to add on to his tally last time out against Home United and was shackled throughout the match. Against a depleted Eagles side, Hoshino should fancy the opportunities that will come his way, especially given that the Eagles have the worst defensive record in the league.
Surprisingly though, of the eight goals Albirex have put past Geylang this year, Hoshino accounts for only one of it. Perhaps that might change on Saturday.
Afiq Yunos – Geylang
The centre-back will most likely be one of the busiest player on the pitch and if Geylang are to cling onto any hopes of upsetting the dominant Albirex at the Jurong East Stadium, then Afiq will need to reproduce the form that saw him became a national team regular once upon a time.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Albirex midfielder Murofushi: “At the moment, we just have to take each game as it comes and do our best (instead of thinking about records). But of course, we will all be happy if we stay unbeaten.”
Geylang defender Jufri: “We have a young squad, it’s not that we are not good, we have a team full of capabilities. It’s just that they are young and every game is a learning curve.”