Having assembled a tidy squad this season, can the Eagles fly high and prove surprise title challengers in 2015?
What happened in 2014?
Home ground: Bedok Stadium, Singapore
Nickname: The Eagles
Last Season: 8th place
League Cup: Semi-finalists
Singapore Cup: Quarter-finalists
Now-former coach Kanan Vedhamuthu raised a few eyebrows by signing three Argentinians in Joaquin Lopez, Franco Chivilo and Leonel Felice, and losses in the three opening games meant he became the first coaching casualty of 2014.
The arrival of Jorg Steinebrunner steadied the ship as he presided over a seven-match unbeaten run before a 4-2 loss to Albirex Niigata (Singapore). While inconsistency thereafter meant they were unable to push themselves into the top half, they eventually managed to finish in a decent 8th position out of 12 teams.
It has been a good off-season for the Eagles with their squad depth looking healthier than last year. While the likes of Joey Sim, Fabian Kwok and Ridhuan Muhammad have left to join rivals Tampines Rovers, they have brought in experienced campaigners in Yazid Yasin, Anaz Hadee, Hafiz Osman and Nor Azli Yusoff.
There is also a strong Japanese flavour to the side with the likes of Tatsuro Inui and Bruno Castanheira joining the retained duo of Kento Fukuda and Yuki Ichikawa, while former captain Jozef Kaplan also makes a return to the Eagles’ den.
The Gaffer – Jorg Steinebrunner
It is never easy inherting a squad midseason and trying to implement your coaching philosophy – something which Steinebrunner should be given due credit for.
Having assembled a tidy squad in this first full season with the club, the 43-year-old German is bullish that his side have the ability to challenge for honours. It will be interesting to see how he pushes this team to the next level.
As earlier mentioned, there is a solid core group of local players who have played in the league for a number of years.
Attacking-wise, they should be much more potent upfront than last season when Felice had to singlehandly take the game by the scruff of its neck at times. The attacking triangle of Inui, Castanheira and Kaplan looks to be a treat for the Eagles faithful this year.
While the overall squad depth looks healthy, it is hard to see where the creative nous is going to come from if Inui has to sit out games.
The likes of Kaplan, Mustaqim Manzur and Hafiz Nor are all outstanding individuals, but will they have the ability to decide games on a consistent basis?
Players To Watch
- Tatsuro Inui
The former Warriors man needs no introduction to the S.League, having played for four years here before leaving for J3 club SC Sagimihara at the end of the 2013 season.
The 25-year-old's nifty dribbling and dead-ball abilities will prove pivotal to the Eagles’ quest this year.
- Bruno Castanheira
After a mixed year with Home United last season, Castanheira will have plenty to prove this term.
Able to play on the wings as well as upfront, the 24-year-old Brazilian-Japanese forward will add an abundance of pace in the Eagles’ attacking third.
- Hafiz Nor
The 26-year-old has been a constant performer in the league over the past two years, with his electric pace and dribbling ability always a thorn in opposition defences.
The former Tanjong Pagar man also has a penchant for spectacular strikes, having notched up two successive Goal of the Year nominations.
Kenneth's 2015 S.League Prediction: 6th
With a bit of luck and consistency, Geylang International could very well push themselves into the top half of the S.League standings.