Geylang International face a daunting task in adding to their single Singapore Cup triumph in 2009, as they are mercilessly thrown into a Group of Death, joining serial league and cup winners Albirex Niigata, Eastern Singapore giants Tampines Rovers, two-time league champions Brunei DPMM and under-23 developmental side Young Lions.
While earning three points against the inexperienced Cubs is a near certainty, Eagles fans wonder where the other points are going to come from to qualify for the semi-finals via a top-two placing, considering the club's dismal end to the just-concluded league campaign. In the final five league matches, Geylang collected only six out of a maximum 15 points to finish fifth in the league.
A lack of a winning momentum in the league provides little assurance for the supporters that the beleaguered Geylang would soar past their Group A opponents unscathed.
In fact, a tough start to the 2023 Singapore Cup beckons for the Eagles when they face the formidable White Swans at Jurong East Stadium on Friday (September 29).
Another wipeout may be on the cards a la all their three league encounters with the Japanese satellite club in 2023 which ended 6-1, 3-0, 6-1 in favour of the latter.
In particular, the underdogs have to be wary of Seia Kunori who has already plundered six goals against them in just one league campaign this year, putting him as the highest-scoring player in Geylang vs Albirex fixtures.
Worryingly for the Eagles, Kunori is still in a red-hot goalscoring streak, as his latest exploit last Sunday helped his side rescue a point against Brunei DPMM in their group-stage opener.
If an out-of-form Geylang do not start getting their act together, chances are that their defence would crumble in the face of a fierce Albirex onslaught as soon as the referee blows his whistle at kick-off.
Team news: Noor Ali welcome Naufal Azman and Ahmad Syahir back in the fold after both have served their respective match suspensions. But he is still without the services of Vincent Bezecourt and Huzaifah Aziz as they recuperate from their cruciate ligament injuries.
Player to watch: Iqbal Hussain - The Eagles faithful will be counting on their newly minted Fans' Player of the Year to carry the goalscoring responsibility and help the team bring points on board over the course of a difficult group phase.