Match Previews

Balestier Khalsa vs Geylang International: Can the Eagles make it three straight wins?

S.League | Toa Payoh Stadium | Sat 14 May | 7.30pm  

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Geylang International’s time to ascent

The lowdown

Past Five Meetings

  • Geylang 0-0 Balestier (S.League, Mar’ 16)
  • Geylang 2-2 Balestier (S.League, Nov’ 15)
  • Geylang 2-2 Balestier (S.League, May’ 15)
  • Geylang 1-2 Balestier (S.League, Mar’ 15)
  • Geylang 1-2 Balestier (S.League, July’ 14)

Balestier Khalsa form

  • Kitchee SC 4-0 Balestier (AFC Cup)
  • Albirex 6-0 Balestier (S.League)
  • Balestier 3-0 New Radiant (AFC Cup)
  • Balestier 2-0 Young Lions (S.League)
  • DPMM 3-1 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)

Balestier Khalsa’s struggles this season are well documented. The side that has punched above their weight in the last three years has been brought crashing back down to earth.

They are currently eighth in the table after accumulating just six points from 10 games, with only one win.

A decent start to the AFC Cup proved to be a false dawn, as they have since crashed out of the tournament following a heavy 4-0 defeat by Kitchee SC in Hong Kong – a game in which they were pinned back for almost 90 minutes.

This was preceded by a 6-0 thrashing by Albirex Niigata (S) last week and things do not get easier for the Tigers as they face a rejuvenated Eagles side on Saturday.

After earning three points just once in the first round of fixtures, the Eagles have bounced back with a 2-1 win over Brunei DPMM on the road and a convincing 3-1 win over the Garena Young Lions. The only blip was a one-goal defeat at the hands of Tampines Rovers.

Their change of fortune means that Geylang have improved to fifth spot in the league table, but they still remain 11 points behind league leaders Albirex.

A win against Balestier may see them move into third, especially if results on Friday and Saturday go their way.

Team News

Balestier will miss the services of Hanafi Salleh, after the full-back was sent off in the game against Albirex.

Robert Pericic continues to sit out for the Tigers although there are whispers he has played his last game for the club as the Toa Payoh club is looking to release him when the midseason transfer window opens.

On the other hand, Stanely Ng will be suspended for Geylang after receiving his fourth yellow of the season the last time out.

The Eagles will welcome Branko Cubrilo back however, and have no players out injured apart from Shahfiq Ghani, who continues to recuperate from his ACL injury.

Key Battle: Sheikh Abdul Hadi vs Amy Recha

Amy Recha has been earmarked as a potential international this season

Sheikh Abdul Hadi has started every single game for Balestier this season in the S.League and AFC Cup.

While the team has struggled as a whole, Sheikh has been putting in several solid individual shifts, taking over the mantle as the leader at the back when Emir Lotinac sat out with injury.

The fact that he has only been cautioned just once so far this season is a testament of his growth.

Against the Eagles, he will need to keep former Young Lions teammate Amy Recha quiet if the Tigers want to earn a result.

The forward has been a revelation this year, performing admirably whenever he has been called upon. In eight appearances (five starts), he has been tormenting defence with his pace and trickery, and scored twice.

In the last game, his introduction helped to turn things around for Geylang against the Young Lions.

With Ng suspended, Amy will most certainly be inserted into the starting eleven, and the attacker will definitely look to stamp his influence on the game right from the get-go.

The Coaches

The rookie coach, Hasrin Jailani, who can often be found shouting instructions throughout the whole 90 minutes of the game, seems to have found the right formula finally.

It also appears that he is no longer afraid of dropping underperforming players, with the likes of Sahil Suhaimi, Gabriel Quak and Isa Halim all having spent time on the bench in recent games.

On the other hand, coach Marko Kraljevic faces an uphill task of motivating his players after a series of demoralising defeats.

Yet, if anyone can do it, it’s the Croatian, who has proved that he is the most capable coach in the league when it comes to keeping his players spirited.

Geylang Intl form

  • Geylang 3-1 Young Lions (S.League)
  • Brunei DPMM 1-2 Geylang (S.League)
  • Geylang 0-1 Tampines (S.League)
  • Geylang 2-2 Home United (S.League)
  • Hougang United 3-1 Geylang (S.League)

Facts and Figures

  • The 0-0 draw in the first meeting between both teams on 3 March was the first goalless game of the season.
  • The last three matches between both sides have ended in draws.
  • Geylang’s last victory against Balestier in the league was four years ago, a 3-1 win in March 2012 at the Bedok Stadium.
  • The Eagles’ last victory at Toa Payoh Stadium in the league came almost six years ago, a 1-0 win in October 2010.
  • Balestier have lost just once in the last nine games at the Toa Payoh Stadium
  • Two of Geylang’s three wins this season came on the road

FourFourTwo prediction

Geylang International 2-1 Balestier Khalsa. The Tigers will certainly make it hard for Geylang at their home ground, but the Tigers’ lack of quality will undoubtedly be exposed by the in-form Eagles.

Photos: Weixiang Lim / FFT