Having won three out of their last four matches, Geylang International are feeling confident ahead of a tough Singapore Premier League (SPL) encounter against Brunei DPMM at Bedok Stadium on Sunday night.
BACKGROUND: How a couple of months can make a difference in football terms.
DPMM dished out a 4-1 thrashing when the two sides met in Bandar Seri Begawan in mid-April – a result that lifted them to second while Geylang were rock-bottom at that point.
Touted as possible title challengers before the season, DPMM’s form took a rapid decline though. Just one win from the following five matches meant they have dropped all the way to sixth – with 11 points from eight outings.
As for Geylang, that result was the midway point of a five-game losing streak as they entered the month of May rooted to the bottom. A 1-1 draw against Young Lions thereafter not just stemmed the rot, but has also sparked an upturn in fortunes since.
Three wins in the following four games have seen them rise to seventh and alleviate fears of finishing bottom for the first time in their proud history. The Eagles now have 11 points from as many games – just three points off third-placed Home United FC.
The mood is now upbeat in the Geylang camp, so naturally they are feeling bullish ahead of a tough run of fixtures which see them face Home United and Albirex Niigata FC (S) after hosting DPMM on Sunday.
“Our upcoming games will be a big challenge for us,” acknowledged Japanese midfielder Yuki Ichikawa, who has led the team superbly in the continued absence of club skipper Anders Aplin.
“But our team have been training hard and improving day by day, so all of us are ready to show what we’re capable of. We’ve become more positive over the months and we’re always in for a good challenge. We certainly have nothing to fear after our recent form.”
It is slightly different over at DPMM after the psychological scar of a 5-0 mauling from Albirex last Sunday. With a massive 22-point gap between them and the relentless White Swans, their title aspirations are all but gone – although they have three games in hand.
Volodymyr Priyomov caught the eye earlier with seven goals in his first five matches, but the former Shakhtar Donetsk hit man has hit a dry patch lately with none in the last three.
Wasps Captain Shah Razen Said believes it is time for the rest of the team to pick up the goalscoring responsibility and help the team return to the upper echelons of the table.
“Why we were successful in the past was because every player in every position was hungry to score,” noted the 32-year-old. “Imports, seniors and young players all play a part in helping the team.
“It’s disappointing (to lose to Albirex 5-0) but we must forget that nightmare. For now, we just have to keep going, work hard and take care of our individual fitness. Our target is to be in the top four for this season.”
DPMM have not enjoyed visits to Bedok Stadium in recent times though, with their last win at the venue coming back in April 2015 where they prevailed 1-0 through a late Paulo Sergio goal.
TEAM NEWS: Apart from Anders who is still recovering from groin surgery, Geylang have a virtually a full-strength squad to call upon.
As for DPMM, Iranian forward Mojtaba Mollasaraei continues to miss out due to injury while first-choice goalkeeper Haimie Nyaring will serve the first of his two-game suspension for his explusion against Albirex.
Geylang International FC: DWWLW
Brunei DPMM FC: DWDLL
17/04/18 DPMM 4-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
27/10/17 Geylang 4-1 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
24/07/17 DPMM 0-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
14/07/17 Geylang 3-3 DPMM – League Cup
20/04/17 Geylang 2-0 DPMM – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR:
Fairoz Hasan (Geylang International FC)
Pretty much a fringe player for his previous club Hougang United FC, Fairoz’s career has undergone an amazing turnaround since joining Geylang in the off-season. The nippy 29-year-old is one of the first names on the team sheet, notching up two assists and three goals. He will surely be relishing the opportunity to score in a third successive game.
Wardun Yussof (Brunei DPMM FC)
A long-serving goalkeeper who played the full 27 matches of their 2015 title-winning campaign, Wardun has found playing time hard to come by in the past couple of seasons. However Haimie’s suspension paves the way for the 36-year-old to reclaim his spot in between the sticks and he will be keen to show that he still has what it takes to perform at this level.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID:
Geylang midfielder Yuki Ichikawa: “Playing in the heart of midfield this year, my role is not just to do my defensive work but also to help in the attacking aspect of our game. I’ve not won a cup since joining Geylang five years ago, so winning something with this club is of course one of my targets. I want to share this joy with my teammates, the staff and all the faithful supporters of Geylang.
“If it’s possible, I hope to represent the Singapore National Team one day because I’ve been here for such a long time (seven years) and Singapore feels like home to me.”
DPMM forward Shah Razen Said: “We have many young local players in the team this year and they are all good for the future of DPMM FC. Against Geylang, it’s important to play a pressing game and not let them do it to us first.
“I know Wardun very well and I know what he’s capable of. Even though he has not played for a long time, his confidence and power is still the same as when he was younger. I’m sure his experience will help the team a lot.”