Match Preview: Eagles and Tigers Reunite at Our Tampines Hub
A reunion of old boys from Geylang International and Balestier Khalsa is pencilled in this Sunday's clash between both clubs at Our Tampines Hub.
During the off-season, there are plenty of player movements between the two teams. Hairul Syirhan, Darren Teh and Asshukrie Wahid left the Eagles Nest to join the Tigers, adding to a growing contingent of Eagles alumni including Delwinder Singh and Aiman Zavyan.
Moving in the opposite direction from Toa Payoh Stadium are Fadli Kamis, Ahmad Syahir, Hazzuwan Halim and Šime Žužul. They joined former Tigers captain Zaiful Nizam who signed for the Eagles in the tail-end of the 2021 season.
Assessing the performances of both set of players during the first round of the league campaign, it seems that Geylang International are getting the better deal.
The Tampines-based club are thankful to be gifted the services of Hazzuwan and Žužul who have chipped in two and three goals, respectively. Even Fadli has registered one assist from the previous game against Albirex Niigata.
Not missing out on this reunion are the Albirex Niigata alumni - Rio Sakuma and Takahiro Tezuka from the Eagles camp and Ryoya Taniguchi, Kuraba Kondo and Shuhei Hoshino from the Tigers camp - who appeared for the Japanese satellite team at various intervals between 2018 and 2021.
In fact, Geylang International would rely on Sakuma and Tezuka to provide inside knowledge of the Japanese trio from Balestier Khalsa. Although the Tigers have conceded a league-high of 21 goals, their Japanese signings have been in red hot form this season, scoring a combined nine goals. Sakuma and Tezuka would have to take charge of the backline and keep the defence tight against the Japanese trio.
With Geylang International coming up tops in their last two encounters against Balestier Khalsa, this is the Eagles' best chance to end their four-game winless run and keep pace with the league frontrunners.
Team news: Faizal Roslan is serving the first of the two-game suspension after his sending-off against Albirex Niigata, while Ahmad Syahir finished his suspension and is available to face his former employers. Abdil Qaiyyim, Hazzuwan Halim and Khairul Hairie are carrying knocks after exerting from the previous match against Albirex Niigata, and will be doubts for this game.
Player to watch: Šime Žužul - With his strike partner Hazzuwan Halim in doubt for this game, the responsibility to finish the chances would fall on the Croatian hitman. With Geylang International scoring three goals in each of the last two encounters against Balestier Khalsa, it is a record that would motivate Žužul to bag a brace or even a hattrick!