Geylang International vs Warriors FC: Eagles out to revive flailing AFC Cup hopes
A team which still harbours continental ambitions vs a team with nothing really to play for.
Geylang International Form
- Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Geylang (S.League)
- Geylang 2-1 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)
- Garena Young Lions 0-2 Geylang (S.League)
- Geylang 1-1 Brunei DPMM (S.League)
- Tampines Rovers 2-1 Geylang (S.League)
Warriors FC Form
- Warriors 2-0 Albirex Niigata (S.League)
- Balestier Khalsa 1-1 Warriors (S.League)
- Warriors 5-2 Garena Young Lions (S.League)
- Brunei DPMM 3-0 Warriors FC (S.League)
- Warriors 2-3 Tampines Rovers (S.League)
There we go... The business end of the season. Apart from the title race between Albirex Niigata (S) and Tampines Rovers, much of the attention has been on the three-way fight between Hougang United, Home United and Geylang to finish as the second-best local team.
With it comes an automatic berth into the 2017 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup group stages, thus all three teams are giving this their best shot.
Geylang are in the least advantageous position though, being three and four points behind Home and Hougang respectively.
The silver lining is that the Eagles play a day earlier in Matchweek 25, so they can make things pretty interesting with a win and put the pressure on the two higher-ranked rivals.
Their preparations have been slightly hindered by the fact that they have not played a competitive game in the last three weeks and will have six players only returning to training on Thursday due to international duty.
Meanwhile their opponents, Warriors FC, paid the price for a listless campaign with no chance of winning any silverware or qualifying for the AFC Cup, but has showed good signs of recovery in recent matches.
The nine-team champions are unbeaten in their last three outings, including an impressive 2-0 scalp of champions-elect Albirex two weeks ago that showed that they can beat anyone on their day.
Should they win their final two matches, there is every chance they can even leapfrog Geylang to finish sixth and climb out of the bottom three.
Geylang will miss out on the services of creative midfielder Carlos Delgado, who is currently back in Argentina due to personal issues, but chief striker Mark Hartmann has recovered sufficiently from injury to be included in coach Hasrin Jailani's plans.
Syazwan Buhari, Daniel Bennett, Faritz Hameed, Gabriel Quak, Shawal Anuar and Sahil Suhaimi all returned unscathed after representing Singapore in a couple of friendlies and will be available for selection.
As for the Warriors, they will have to contend without the suspended duo of Shaiful Esah and Hafiz Nor, while veteran winger Ridhuan Muhammad is a doubt due to a calf problem.
At least they can call upon the services of defender Madhu Mohana, who was the only one away on international duty.
Key Battle: Yuki Ichikawa vs Jonathan Behe
It is no secret that Geylang's hopes of winning lie on how they cope with the threat of Behe.
The lanky French hitman has been the shining light for the Warriors this season with 16 league goals, including four in his last three appearances.
He will likely come up against Japanese centre-back Ichikawa, who has enjoyed a good third year with Geylang.
The 29-year-old has attained just one yellow card in 19 league games, a rather impressive feat for someone who plays in a position where he constantly has to put in tackles.
Geylang's Hasrin Jailani is still pretty much learning his trade at this level, but the former Singapore international has been lauded for his bravery in trying out different formations and giving fringe players ample opportunities to shine.
Meanwhile Warriors' Razif Onn endured a tough start to his third spell in charge of the club, but has seemingly steadied the ship as the season wore on and will be hopeful of remaining in the hot seat for next season.
Last Five Meetings
- Geylang 1-0 Warriors (League Cup Plate Semi Final, Jul '16)
- Warriors 2-0 Geylang (S.League, Jun ‘16)
- Geylang 2-1 Warriors (Singapore Cup, May ‘16)
- Geylang 2-2 Warriors (S.League, Apr ‘16)
- Geylang 6-0 Warriors (S.League, Nov ‘15)
Facts and Figures
- Geylang are unbeaten in their last four matches at Bedok, with their last loss there coming in a 5-0 thrashing by Home in July's League Cup.
- Warriors are winless in their last six away outings, with the last success coming in a 3-1 league win at Hougang in June.
- Warriors have conceded the second-highest number of late goals (from 81' to 90', including injury time) with 12, three lesser than Garena Young Lions.
- Warriors no. 1 Yazid Yasin had played for Geylang for six years in two separate spells, most recently from 2014 to 2015.
Geylang are the slight favourites, but the Warriors have done well recently and will not be pushovers. We fancy a 1-1 draw here...