Tough test at new nest for Eagles
|GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL||ALBIREX NIIGATA|
Geylang International will face a tough test of their mettle when they take on defending champions Albirex Niigata tonight.
The Japanese side are flying high at the summit of the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League with six wins and one draw after seven games, scoring 20 times and conceding just five for a league-best goal difference.
The Eagles, on the other hand, have to cope with the suspension of two key players and a long injury list.
Defender Anders Aplin and winger Stanely Ng will sit out tonight's game after being sent off in the 3-0 defeat by Home United two weeks ago, and their walking wounded includes forward Shawal Anuar and brothers Taufiq and Shafiq Ghani.
But their biggest test will probably come from the artificial pitch at Jalan Besar, Geylang's new home until September as maintenance works are carried out on the running track at their Bedok Stadium home.
Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani told The New Paper: "We are still training on natural grass at Bedok and it's not easy to transfer what we work on in training to match situations at Jalan Besar, where the artificial pitch can be slippery.
"This will be our first 'home game' at Jalan Besar, and it's not ideal for us to play Albirex, who are already used to playing on artificial turf at Jurong East.
"We just have to prepare to the best of our abilities, make full use of the one day we have before matchday to train at Jalan Besar and get used to the conditions."
Goals have also been hard to come by for the Eagles, who sit fifth in the nine-team league and have scored just seven times in as many games.
Only Hougang United (six), Balestier Khalsa and the Garena Young Lions (four each) have netted fewer.
"We have created chances, but we just couldn't score, and it's going to be tougher with some of our attackers out," said Hasrin.
"This is why I need everyone to step up, not just the imports and the senior players, but also the substitutes and the younger ones."
Even as the odds look stacked against his team, Hasrin stays positive.
He said: "We had nine points after the first round last season but, with all the issues we faced, we are on 10 points with one game to go before the end of Round 1.
"Of course, we can still do better and win more matches and points.
"I believe we can get a result against Albirex, as long as we don't let in early goals, create chances and be more confident." - DAVID LEE