Match Previews

Geylang International vs Tampines Rovers: Will the Stags be held by the draw specialists?

S.League | Bedok Stadium | Thurs 21 Apr | 7.30pm  

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Perfect opportunity for both sides to shut their critics up.

The lowdown

This may sound harsh – Tampines Rovers only suffered their first league defeat of the season just last week – but the Stags’ performances so far have simply been not good enough.

Bar a 4-1 thrashing of Hougang United and a 4-0 mauling of Bangladesh’s Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club in the AFC Cup, they have yet to beat any other opponents by more than one goal.

In fact, Tampines had a run of three straight league single-goal wins – Brunei DPMM 2-1, Garena Young Lions 2-1 and Balestier Khalsa 1-0.

Geylang International Form

  • Geylang 2-2 Home United (S.League)
  • Hougang United 3-1 Geylang (S.League)
  • Geylang 2-2 Warriors FC (S.League)
  • Geylang 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (S.League)
  • Geylang 0-0 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)

Tampines Rovers Form

  • Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Tampines (S.League)
  • Ceres La Salle 2-1 Tampines (AFC Cup)
  • Tampines 1-0 Balestier Khalsa (S.League)
  • Garena Young Lions 1-2 Tampines (S.League)
  • Brunei DPMM 1-1 Tampines (S.League)

But that has been followed up with two straight losses – a 2-1 AFC Cup defeat to Philippines’ Ceres La Salle and a 1-0 loss to title rivals Albirex Niigata (S).

While it can be argued that the three goals from those defeats all came via penalties, the Stags did not put up convincing cases for victory either.

The much-vaunted ‘JJB’ attacking partnership led by former Arsenal and Liverpool player Jermaine Pennant must do more in order to lead them back to winning ways, starting with this Thursday’s Eastern Derby against Geylang International.

At the other camp, the Eagles are enduring an unsatisfactory season.

Six draws in eight matches tell you the full story – they have impressed in patches and displayed enterprising football, but simply cannot find the killer instinct to turn one point into three.

This was the script they followed since facing Tampines on day one.

The Bedok-based club had come from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 with 11 minutes to go, but was denied the victory due to an 86th-minute equaliser by Tampines’ Yasir Hanapi.

With one-third of the season now gone, they are eight points behind pacesetters Albirex and ought to get some wins out of the way in order to reignite their title hopes.  

Team News

A positive for Geylang is that they have a wealth of options to call upon, including chief forward Branko Cubrilo and defender Yuki Ichikawa as they return from their respective injury layoffs against Home last week.

As for Tampines, they are hopeful of having no. 1 goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud back after he missed the last three games due to injury.

Key Battle: Al-Qaasimy Rahman vs Jermaine Pennant  

Pennant is a big game player

Tampines star man Pennant may have been quiet in recent outings, but do not count against a player of his calibre to turn on the style, especially in such a big game.

Likely to be deployed on the right flank, the 33-year-old should come up against a player nine years his junior in the form of Al-Qaasimy.

The Geylang left-back will be looking to bounce back after a game to forget in the 2-2 draw with Home, with the first Protectors goal coming from his flank. He then put the ball past his own goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari for their second.

Famed for his non-compromising challenges (still remember his challenge on Patrice Evra when Juventus came to town?), this is the type of game which “Qimy” clearly relishes playing in.

The Coaches

Geylang’s Hasrin Jailani is still getting to grips with his first season as a head coach of an S.League outfit, but he has been brave in trying out different formations and deploying players in unfamiliar positions.

While he has a number of effervescent attackers at his disposal, Tampines’ V Sundramoorthy still places a strong emphasis on remaining as a compact unit – as can be seen with his tendency to favour Yasir Hanapi and Izzdin Shafiq in central midfield, where their industry and energy come into good use.

Last Five Meetings

  • Tampines 3-3 Geylang (S.League, Feb ’16)
  • Geylang 1-4 Tampines (S.League, Oct ’15)
  • Tampines 2-0 Geylang (S.League, Jul ‘15)
  • Geylang 3-2 Tampines (S.League, Apr ’15)
  • Geylang 2-1 Tampines (League Cup, Ju’ 14)

Facts and Figures

  • Tampines have the edge on the overall head-to-heads, winning 28 times out of 38 encounters. Geylang won just seven times, while the other three games ended up in draws.  
  • Geylang are unbeaten in their last six matches at Bedok. Their last defeat there was a 1-4 defeat to Tampines in mid-October.
  • Tampines have just failed to score once in 13 matches in all competitions this season.
  • Both sides’ top scorers have three league goals to their names so far, namely Geylang’s Carlos Delgado and Tampines’ Jordan Webb.
  • Tampines goalkeeper Joey Sim, Izwan’s backup, has yet to concede from open play this season.

FourFourTwo prediction

Tampines want to bounce back, but Geylang is eager to get a second win as well – it all points to a hotly-contested affair. We’re seeing a 2-2 draw here.

Photo: S.League