Geylang International vs Tampines Rovers: Eastern Derby goes to JBS
Tall task for fatigued Tampines.
Tampines Rovers Form
Tampines 1-2 Hanoi (AFC Cup)
Tampines 0-1 Warriors FC (S.League)
Hanoi 4-0 Tampines (AFC Cup)
Balestier 0-1 Tampines (S.League)
Ceres 5-0 Tampines (AFC Cup)
As it stands, there is not much between the two rivals, who have started the season in unconvincing fashion.
The hosts have played three league games, scoring three and conceding three, while the visitors have netted four and let in as many goals in four games so far.
Things, however, do not look good for the Stags.
They are playing their third match in a hectic week, following two consecutive losses; a 0-1 home loss to Warriors FC at the Jurong West Stadium last Saturday, and a 2-1 loss to Vietnam side Hanoi FC in an AFC Cup Group G match at the Jalan Besar Stadium just three days later.
Although they put up a tenacious display against Hanoi on Tuesday evening, the players looked visibly tired in the second half, with gaps opening up in the defensive third and allowing the visitors to claim a comeback victory at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
They will do well to avoid a fourth straight defeat in all competitions at the hands of Geylang, who on the other hand have not played a competitive game for over a month due to the international break.
The Eagles will be playing their first “home” match at the Jalan Besar Stadium, as a carnival is being held at Bedok Stadium on match day.
While there might not be much of a home ground advantage, considering Tampines have already played at the Jalan Besar Stadium this season, Geylang will be hard-pressed to find a better time to face a fatigued, depleted Tampines side.
A victory for the home side could kick-start a long-awaited winning run, while the visitors will be hoping to halt their recent losing run.
Geylang International Form
Warriors 1-1 Geylang (S.League)
Geylang 2-0 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)
Hougang United 2-0 Geylang (S.League)
Geylang 4-1 Home United (S.League)
Hougang United 0-1 Geylang (S.League)
Despite having a month off competitive football, the hosts are far from having a clean bill of health.
Defenders Faritz Hameed, Yuki Ichikawa and Al-Qaasimy Rahman, who has started the season brightly, are all racing to be fit, alongside midfielders Nor Azli Yusoff, Ricardo Sentra and Shawal Anuar.
Playing two matches in four days has clearly taken its toll on the Stags.
Goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, defender Madhu Mohana, midfielders Hafiz Rahim, Ismadi Mukhtar and Imran Sahib, as well as striker Khairul Amri are all recovering from injury. Long-term absentee Fazrul Nawaz also remains sidelined.
Key Battle: Victor Coto vs Daniel Bennett
Having finally broken his scoring duck since impressing in pre-season, Costa Rican Coto will be looking to kick on and make his presence felt against a depleted and tired Tampines backline.
With regular defensive partner Madhu possibly missing out, the experience of national team player Bennett will come in handy against the physicality of Coto.
Not known for his pace, Bennett will also need to organise his defence well, particularly with Coto looking to bring in speedy wingers Amy Recha and Gabriel Quak with his hold-up play.
Tampines coach Jurgen Raab will be encouraged by his charges’ tenacious display against Hanoi, despite conceding two second-half goals.
But with the Stags playing their third match in a week, Raab could opt for a more conservative line-up to avoid a demoralising fourth defeat in a row, particularly with key striker Amri nursing an injury.
Though Geylang could show signs of rustiness from not playing in over a month, beating an ailing Tampines team would be the ideal way to provide impetus to an unspectacular start to the season.
Coach Hasrin Jailani will be hoping his attacking players find their finishing touch, having spurned many chances so far.
Facts and figures:
Past five meetings
Tampines 2-1 Geylang (S.League, Aug ‘16)
Geylang 0-1 Tampines (S.League, Apr ‘16)
Tampines 3-3 Geylang (S.League, Feb ‘16)
Geylang 1-4 Tampines (S.League, Oct ‘15)
Tampines 2-0 Geylang (S.League, Jul ‘15)
Tampines are undefeated against Geylang in five league matches, winning four of them.
Geylang had a mixed league record at the Jalan Besar Stadium last season, with two wins (both against the Garena Young Lions), two draws and one loss (against eventual champions Albirex Niigata).
The Stags lost just five times last season, whereas they have already seen defeat two times in four games so far this season.
Neither team has looked convincing two months into the season, and with injuries plaguing both sides, the Stags’ fatigue problems could be the deciding factor. 2-1 win to Geylang.