S.League | Bishan Stadium | Thurs 23 Jun| 8.00pm
The battle for third spot
Home United Form
- Albirex Niigata (S) 5-2 Home (S.League)
- Home 1-3 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)
- Young Lions 2-2 Home (S.League)
- Home 2-1 Hougang United (Singapore Cup)
- Home 5-0 Brunei DPMM (S.League)
Geylang International Form
- Geylang 1-2 Hougang United(S.League)
- Warriors FC 2-0 Geylang (S.League)
- Geylang 2-1 Warriors FC (Singapore Cup)
- Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Geylang (S.League)
- Balestier Khalsa 1-3 Geylang (S.League)
Both teams had entered the international break on a high – Home were on a five-game winning streak while the Eagles won three on the trot. Many were convinced the two teams were on the rise and could give league leaders Albirex Niigata (S) a run for their money, or even catch up to the White Swans.
But both Home and Geylang flattered to deceive once league action resumed, as they were defeated convincingly by Albirex. The Protectors suffered a humiliating 5-2 defeat, while Geylang were overpowered 2-0.
At this stage, Home may be in third place but they are a whooping 16 points behind Albirex, with only 10 games remaining.
Similarly, Geylang are in sixth place, 20 points off the pace. It should be safe to say, both teams’ title hopes are in tatters.
However, the fight for third place is still on and as last year’s campaign showed, finishing as the highest local team could result in AFC Cup qualification.
Balestier had finished in fourth place, behind Brunei DPMM, Tampines Rovers and Albirex, but still made it to the regional tournament as the Stags were already assured of the place after exiting the AFC Champions League stages while the other two sides were not local teams.
With Geylang only four points behind the Protectors, they should be going all out to secure the three points in this fixture.
Home may finally see coach Philippe Aw return to the dugout, after he took an absence of leave due to personal issues.
The Protectors are still hit by a spate of injuries though, with captain Juma’at Jantan still a doubt for the game, as is Sirina Camara. Ang Zhi Wei, R. Aaravin and Nur Hizami are still out for the foreseeable future.
Safianto Salleh too will miss out for the hosts, as he serves a suspension.
On Geylang end, Shawal Anuar and Safirul Sulaiman too are hit by suspensions, while new signing Mark Hartmann has not received the go-ahead to take part in the match.
Key Battle: Zulfahmi Arifin vs Gabriel Quak
In his last game, Zulfahmi was placed in an unfamiliar position at full-back as Home had no one else to turn to.
He could be held accountable for some of the goals conceded but it is hard to fully blame the 24-year-old, considering his natural position is in the middle of the park.
However, if Home put him there once again, he needs to step up and do his part.
Zulfahmi will face off against his former LionsXII teammate, Gabriel Quak, who on his day can be a thorn in the flesh.
With his trickery and pace, the Geylang winger might just get one too many opportunities to blaze past Zulfahmi and cause chaos with his deliveries or pot-shots.
Last Five Meetings
- Geylang 2-2 Home (S.League, Apr ’16)
- Geylang 2-1 Home (S.League, Oct ‘15)
- Home 0-1 Geylang (S.League, May ’15)
- Geylang 1-1 Home (S.League, Mar ’15)
- Geylang 1-4 Home (S.League, May ’14)
Both teams’ coaches are very similar in their tactical approach, as Philippe Aw and Hasrin Jailani both espouse an attacking game.
But given the spate of injuries Home have, Aw might be inclined to adopt a conservative strategy instead and rely on the pace of Faris Ramli to hurt the Eagles.
Facts and Figures
- Geylang’s top scorer is Carlos Delgado with five goals. However, three of them came from the spot.
- Ken Ilso has fired in 12 goals for the Protectors, with only two from the spot.
- Home have beaten Geylang 29 times, while the Eagles only managed a paltry five victories over the former.
- This season, Geylang tend to score most often in the second half, with 40% of their goals coming in the last 15 minutes of the game.
History favours Home and between two equally matched team, it might be best to go with the flow. A 2-1 win to the Protectors.