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Match Preview: Bezecourt's Injury a Huge Blow to Eagles' Asian Aspirations


Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore

When Hougang United playmaker Kristijan Krajcek was forced off the Our Tampines Hub field with an arm injury in a league encounter with Geylang International in March, the watching Eagles fans were hoping that such misfortune would not happen to any of their key players.


The Cheetahs, who were then leading by a goal, not only suffered a reverse to their rivals, but they also lost four straight games in the absence of their talismanic midfielder.


As fate was to dictate, Geylang's worst nightmare was realised when their own midfield maestro tore his anterior cruciate ligament after falling to a challenge in the recent Eastern derby and is now ruled out for the rest of the season.


With the fifth-placed Eagles hoping to pip Balestier Khalsa to fourth and qualify for next season's AFC Cup, losing Bezecourt in the season's run-in with eight games remaining is a big dent to the club's continental dreams.


The former New York Red Bull player has been a sensational hit for the Tampines-based club since joining last year, scoring 17 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions.


A player for the big occasions, Bezecourt announced his arrival to Singapore with a stunning strike that sank Lion City Sailors 1-0 on the opening day last season. More often than not when Geylang were trailling in games, the club could count on the Frenchman to weave his magic to rescue points for his team.


Those heroics quickly made him a crowd favourite, earning him the Ultras Eagles' Player of the Year award last year.


With the Eagles heavily relying on their attacking midfielder for creative spark, Bezecourt's absence was immediately telling in the Eastern derby.


Despite experimenting with the likes of Iqbal Hussain and Yushi Yamaya in the advanced midfield role, the Eagles struggled to feed the ball to Naufal Azman who in turn hardly posed an attacking threat to the Stags.


Looking to the run of fixtures starting from the clash against the Cheetahs in midweek (July 12), head coach Noor Ali will have a huge selection headache in finding an able replacement for Bezecourt as most of his attacking players are more effective on the flanks or up top.


Given the dearth of options under his disposal, the Singaporean trainer may well have to resort to injury-prone Shahfiq Ghani as a stopgap measure.


Just recovered from a meniscus operation that had sidelined him for months, his return to action against the Tigers in June turned out to be a false dawn as he struggled to make an impact in subsequent substitute appearances.


Seemingly the only candidate to fill Bezecort's boots from now till the end of the campaign, the heat is on the former prodigy to overcome his match fitness and weight issues and be the creative force that his team are desperately calling for.

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