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Match Preview: Bare-Boned Eagles Chasing Tail of the Tigers


Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore

The Geylang fraternity reacted in shock when Geylang International announced the departure of Delwinder Singh on the eve of the June international break.


For those outside of the club setup who are unaware of the three-month contract details, this came as a surprising development when just days before in a post-match interview after Geylang's 3-0 defeat to Albirex Niigata, head coach Noor Ali lamented the limited squad strength he has to work with for the rest of the season.


Although the Eastern Singapore club did sign Danish Irfan from Tampines Rovers as an immediate replacement, this is not likely to be an adequate move for Noor with his defenders being injured and suspended at different stages of the campaign, limiting his ability to play a full-strength backline.


In fact, the 48-year-old Singaporean trainer was hit by another injury news during the international break when Amirul Adli hobbled off with an injury in a friendly against Papua New Guinea and is ruled out for six weeks - joining Huzaifah Aziz and Noor Ariff in the treatment room.


With reshuffling of the backline on the cards against Balestier Khalsa this Friday (June 23), the Eagles' squad is stretched thin once more with versatile captain Joshua Pereira possibly moving from base of midfield to fill in the centre-back position.


Compiling Noor's defensive woes is the continued unconvincing goalkeeping of Hafiz Ahmad. His performances between the sticks have been subjected to even greater criticisms since the heavy loss to the White Swans.


Despite grabbing the joint-most number of Man of the Match awards this campaign (2), the Eagles faithful remains sceptical that the 1.73m custodian is the man for the job, and calls from some sections of the crowd have grown louder for the club to prioritise a quality goalkeeping signing for this midseason transfer window.


Surprise packages Balestier will certainly look to take advantage of Geylang's disarray. Playing without any local stars in their squad and even losing to the Eagles 2-0 earlier in April, the fourth-placed Tigers still manage to punch above their weight in the league and found themselves one spot above and three points more than their upcoming rivals.


The Bishan outfit - who are well known for running on a meagre budget - have their Japanese import Ryoya Taniguchi to thank for their ascendancy, as his 14 goals this season have fired the team up the league table.


With the Eagles chasing the tail of the Tigers, Taniguchi has to be shackled by the men in green for there to be a chance to grab hold of the fourth spot in the hope of qualifying for the AFC Cup as the third-best local side.

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