Match Preview: Abdil Key to Eagles Defensive Stability
Geylang International's wastefulness in front of goal this season has been put under intense media spotlight.
In four of the nine games played, the Eagles have attempted more shots than their opponents. But their lack of clinical finishing results in their lowest goal tally among the Singapore Premier League teams.
With goals hard to come by, the two-time league champions have been stuck in second-from-bottom position for most of the season.
Amid the well-documented struggles of Geylang International, one player has been quietly tightening the rearguard in recent weeks.
After a stop-start season due to injuries and suspension, Abdil Qaiyyim has put in a robust defensive display for the past two games against Lion City Sailors and Hougang United.
Often not shown in highlight reels, his reading of the opponents' attacking moves in those games was top-notch as he was the quickest in dispossessing the ball from the opponents or intercepting passes.
Abdil's settled central partnership with Rio Sakuma had also aided his cause of focusing on his defensive duty.
Those contributions from the former Lion City Sailors player restricted Geylang International to a narrow loss against his former employers and earned a clean sheet for his team against Hougang United.
With Abdil having a record of being prone to injuries, the Eagles faithful would hope that he could stay fit all season and continue to earn clean sheets for the team.
The upcoming task against Albirex Niigata would certainly be a challenging one for the 33-year-old Singaporean central defender.
The Japanese satellite team boasted former Southampton player Tadanari Lee. His strike partner Kodai Tanaka is in red-hot form with eight goals this season.
Abdil would have his hands full in dealing with the onslaught of the White Swans. It is hoped that the experienced defender would hold the defensive line and prevent the goal from being breached.
Team news: Noor Ariff and Joshua Pereira are close to completing their national service and have been seen taking the fitness test. Both players are likely to see action when the league returns from international break in June.
Fadli Kamis, Yeo Hai Ngee and Suria Prakash continue to be absent for the team.