Geylang International go into their Singapore Premier League (SPL) game against Warriors FC on a high after claiming their first victory the last time out.
Warriors will be looking for their first win of the campaign and put an end to their worst league start in the glorious history of the club.
BACKGROUND: After a poor start to the campaign that yielded just one point from six matches, Geylang’s season may just be about to lift off.
The Eagles followed up a 1-1 draw against Young Lions with a superb 3-1 win away at Hougang United a week ago that ensured they came off the bottom of the standings.
Shawal Anuar recaptured his sparking goalscoring form of last season with three goals in the two matches, while unheralded players like Ryson Yap and Fuad Ramli are beginning to find their feet with more minutes at this level.
Speaking to FOX Sports Asia, defender Danish Irfan believes in the upturn in fortunes should be attributed to Coach Hirotaka Usui as well as the players.
“Coach Usui kept pushing and motivating us in training, so the team remained together despite five consecutive losses,” explained the 19-year-old. “We knew what we had to do so we kept motivating each other and that created a great atmosphere in the changing room which we brought onto the pitch.
“We were positive going into the Hougang game, as we played well against Young Lions but were unfortunate not to come away with a win. We knew it (the win) was coming, but we had to show how much we wanted it and we did.”
Next up for the Eagles will be a tricky test against a Warriors side that have not been exactly that bad this term despite not winning any games yet.
The nine-time champions drew five out of eight matches so far, with the other three being defeats by the odd goal – including last Sunday’s 2-1 reverse to champions Albirex Niigata FC (S).
Midfielder Suria Prakash believes the tide will turn soon for the Warriors, should they continue to plug away.
“We have not have won a game yet, but we’ve been improving as a team and it shows in our recent performances – we drew against (Brunei) DPMM (FC) and Home (United FC) before the loss to Albirex,” said the 24-year-old.
“Coach Mirko (Grabovac) brings the European style of game play, which took us some time to get used to. But now we’re getting better technically and fitness-wise, so we just need to build on this and I’m very sure the results will start to favour us.”
It is no secret that the Warriors’ hopes of securing a first SPL victory lay largely on the shoulders of Jonathan Behe. The lanky French forward is looking sharp since returning from injury, with four goals in the last four matches.
“Behe’s not just a quality striker, but also a great guy on and off the pitch,” commented Suria. “He’s a player which I look at to learn a thing or two on and I’m sure he can continue his good scoring form of late.”
TEAM NEWS: For the Warriors, captain Kento Fukuda and striker Khairul Nizam remains unfit for duty but defender Delwinder Singh is available again after recovering from a hamstring injury which kept him out for the last game.
As for Geylang, they have a largely fit squad to call upon – barring Captain Anders Aplin who is still at least two months away from full fitness due to groin surgery.
Warriors FC: DLDDL
Geylang International FC: LLLDW
04/04/18 Geylang 1-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
15/09/17 Warriors 0-2 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
16/06/17 Geylang 0-2 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
10/03/17 Warriors 1-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
14/10/16 Geylang 2-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Ignatius Ang (Warriors FC)
Out of the professional scene for almost two years due to National Service, Ang is bent on making up for lost time as he played a key role in setting up Behe’s goal against Albirex – just four minutes after coming on as a substitute for his first appearance since June 2016. The 25-year-old forward is likely to come off the bench again, with his nifty dribbling skills coming in handy during the dying stages of the game.
Ryson Yap (Geylang International FC)
He has to bide his time since his switch from National Football League (NFL) side Police Sports Association in the off-season, but Yap is now getting accustomed to the rigours at this level as he notched up his first assist with a precision cross for Shawal to score against Hougang. The 25-year-old should get another start with his pace and ability to get the ball in from wide areas.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Warriors midfielder Suria Prakash: “It feels great to be back doing what I love most. It’s been tough not being able to play professional football for almost two years (previously) and I feel that I still have a lot of areas to improve on – like being more consistent and more clinical in front of goal.
“This is going to be my first time playing at the National Stadium so I’m definitely looking forward to the experience. I hope our fans turn up to support us and it will be great to repay their faith with a win.”
Geylang defender Danish Irfan: “My first few games didn’t go so well, but Coach Usui continued to play me and believe in me. The senior players also kept motivating and guiding me to help me improve. That’s why I’m starting to have confidence now.
“It’s still a long way to go for myself, but my future goals are to play for the Singapore National Team and play overseas one day. One of my childhood dreams was also to play at the National Stadium and it’s definitely going to be a proud moment to achieve it on Sunday.”