Eagles In Hunt For Pride Of The East
Geylang International vs Tampines Rovers
(15 October, Sunday, 7.30pm, Our Tampines Hub)
Written by: Rashid Sulaiman
Having turned out for both clubs during his playing days, Geylang International head coach Noor Ali knows exactly what is at stake when they go up against Tampines Rovers in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League at Our Tampines Hub on Sunday night.
Being the first time since 2011 that the Eastern derby will be played in Tampines, Noor Ali has also called on the fans to turn up in numbers.
“It is special for me as I had played for both teams. These are the games I looked forward to as a player as they are intense,” enthused the 42-year old.
“The players have to play with pride as we want to be the best in the East. We know Tampines are the better team at the moment but we will play our hearts out because anything can happen in football.
“It has been a while since we played at Tampines homeground so I hope that it will be a good game and the fans will come down to show their support.”
The Eagles are currently in fifth position in the S.League on 30 points from 19 games while the Stags are in second spot with 41 points, nine points behind leaders Albirex Niigata (S).
The two teams have met twice in the S.League earlier in the season with Tampines winning the first encounter 4-0 and Geylang managing to earn a 1-1 draw in the second tie.
While Noor Ali admits that he is experiencing a crisis ahead of the much-anticipated Eastern derby, he believes that his team are hyped up to claim the scalp of Jurgen Raab’s charges.
“I am facing a bit of an issue with the team as there are several players out injured and suspended. Victor Coto is suspended, Yuki Ichikawa is doubtful while others such as Shahfiq Ghani and Stanely Ng are out,” he shared.
“While it is not easy for me to approach this game, I believe the team and whoever goes out onto the pitch will give their 100% and put up a good fight against Tampines.
“It is all about the 90 minutes and let’s see how our team cope with it and hopefully the Prime League boys will make the step up,” added the former Singapore international.
Tampines have only lost once in their last five matches and are still mathematically in the race to dethrone the White Swans from the title.
While they were held to a 1-1 draw against Warriors in their previous league outing, they displayed their attacking prowess in the two games prior to that, winning 5-1 and 4-0 against Hougang United and Garena Young Lions respectively.
That has not gone unnoticed by Noor Ali who has acknowledged his opponent’s superiority.
“They are a good team and have nine national players at the moment. They also have depth which we do not have at the moment,” explained the Eagles’ head coach.
“Anything is still possible in the remaining five games.Tampines are still trying to chase for the title and will definitely will go all out and aim to finish as high as possible as there is still an AFC Cup spot for them to play for.”
As for Raab, he will be hoping that his players such as custodian Izwan Mahbud, Madhu Mohana, Mustafic Fahrudin and Fazrul Nawaz will be ready for this match as they prepare for the title run-in with five matches to go.
Suspension: Victor Coto (Geylang International)
Geylang International - LWWWL
23/09/17 Geylang International 1-3 Home United
15/09/17 Warriors FC 0-2 Geylang International
09/09/17 Geylang International 2-0 Balestier Khalsa
18/08/17 Hougang United 0-1 Geylang International
05/08/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 5-0 Geylang International
Tampines Rovers - LWWWD
20/09/17 Tampines Rovers 1-1 Warriors FC
17/09/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Tampines Rovers
12/09/17 Garena Young Lions 0-4 Tampines Rovers
09/09/17 Tampines Rovers 5-1 Hougang United
19/08/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 4-0 Tampines Rovers
Head to Head (S.League)
29/06/17 Tampines Rovers 1-1 Geylang International
08/04/17 Geylang International 0-4 Tampines Rovers
04/08/16 Tampines Rovers 2-1 Geylang International
21/04/16 Geylang International 0-1 Tampines Rovers
15/02/16 Tampines Rovers 3-3 Geylang International