Match Preview: Eagles Aim Top-Four Finish


Photo credit: Idi Bakhtiar

Geylang International host newly crowned Singaporean champions Albirex Niigata in their final league match at Our Tampines Hub on Friday (October 21), with a fourth-placed finish at the top of their mind.


The Tampines-based side are currently in pole position for the fourth spot after posting a comfortable 4-2 victory over Balestier Khalsa last Friday.


With Tanjong Pagar United and Hougang United one and two points adrift respectively, only a victory in their next home game would guarantee a top-four position.


A draw would be sufficient only if the Jaguars, who are facing Tampines Rovers at the other end of Singapore, do not better the Eagles' result.


To be on a receiving end of a defeat would be unthinkable as this would result in Geylang International dropping two places down to end the campaign in sixth.


As the White Swans have already sewn up the title earlier this month, the Eagles hope their next opponents will rest key players, in view of the Singapore Cup which will kick off next week.


But one player from the Japanese satellite club who will be pumped up to play is Golden Boot contender Kodai Tanaka.


The 22-year-old striker with 32 goals this season, is currently one goal shy of leading marksman Boris Kopitovic.


Feeling aggrieved that his second successful goal attempt against Tampines Rovers had been marked as an own goal, Tanaka will certainly be unleashing his goalscoring prowess towards the Geylang International defensive unit.


Anticipating a backlash by the Japanese forward, the Eagles backline marshalled by Rio Sakuma would have to keep a compact defensive shape and cut off any attacking outlets to the White Swans dangerman.


Backed by a boisterous home crowd at the Eagles Nest, Geylang International hope to put a strong display and reward their fans for their unwavering support with a respectable league finish.


Team news: Zaiful Nizam returns for training this week after picking up an ankle injury against Tanjong Pagar United earlier this month. But his involvement in the Battle of the Birds remains a doubt.


Long-term absentee Fadli Kamis, who last appeared in a league match against Balestier Khalsa in April, looked like he will play no part in the Eagles' campaign.


Player to watch: Vincent Bezecourt - The star midfielder has proved to be a big-game player for Geylang International this season, with his superb performance in the last match against Lion City Sailors as a notable highlight. The Eagles will once again look to the former New York Red Bulls player to upset the reigning champions.

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