The Battle of the Cellar Dwellers between Geylang International and Young Lions this Saturday (April 16) is certainly not what the Eagles fans envisioned when the fixture was first released before the start of the 2022 Singapore Premier League season.
After starting the season brilliantly with a win over league champions Lion City Sailors, many Geylang International supporters, including the Ultras Eagles, were cautiously optimistic of a good season ahead.
However, that positive mood dissipated within a month as the club embarked on a five-game winless run, eking out two points in the process.
The club now languish in seventh position, just above the bottom-placed Young Lions. More worryingly, the team are in danger of drifting away from other mid-table teams like Balestier Khalsa and Hougang United.
What explains Geylang International's current predicament is the team's struggle in front of goal. Out of the 73 shots against their opponents in the past six games, only eight were converted into goals. Presently, the Eagles are the second-lowest scoring team in the league.
The form of their next opponents Young Lions is even more woeful with no point from their five games played so far. However, this fact is no source of comfort for the Eagles given their own dismal form.
Also, their records against Young Lions in the 2021 season were mixed. A one-all draw in the first round was followed by a 4-2 victory and a 3-2 defeat. Victory for the two-time league champions in the forthcoming fixture is certainly not a foregone conclusion.
Will Geylang International win again in the 2022 season? The Eagles fanbase in Singapore and around the world would certainly hope for that elusive victory to be celebrated at the Jalan Besar Stadium this Saturday night.
Team news: Geylang International are facing a defensive crisis with Faizal Roslan serving the second of his two-match suspension and Abdil Qaiyyim and Fadli Kamis picking up a knock and a season-ending cruciate ligament injury, respectively. Khairul Hairie's fitness will also be assessed ahead of the game.
Player to watch: Vincent Bezecourt - With Geylang International being goal shy against Balestier Khalsa in the previous game, a leading player from the frontline has to step up and take leadership. That responsibility falls to Bezecourt, a midfielder with the pedigree from his days with New York Red Bulls and a title-winner with Armenian league champions Alashkert Yerevan last season.
After scoring his debut goal against Lion City Sailors in the season opener, his influence has diminished with just one assist in the next five matches. The Geylang faithful look forward to him returning to his best against Young Lions.