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Match Preview: Eagles Regroup for High-Stake Eastern Derby

Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore

It is make or break for Geylang International's Singapore Cup aspirations as the 2009 domestic cup winners face off against their fierce rivals Tampines Rovers in a Group A tie this Saturday (November 4).


After soaring to a flying start with a stunning victory over hot favourites Albirex Niigata, the Eagles crashed back to earth as they suffered a heavy loss to Brunei DPMM, leaving them fourth on three points.


With the Bruneian outfit clinching first spot in Group A a near certainty, that recent defeat has blown the race for the second qualifying spot to the semi-finals wide open. Indeed, Geylang are levelled with third-placed Stags on the same number of points and trail the White Swans by a point, though the latter have played a game more.


The stake for the upcoming derby could not have been higher as a win for either side will see them strengthening their claim over that runner-up spot.


To seize that victory in their favour, the first order of the day for the Eagles is to get back to their shooting basics.


Out of the 13 shots against the Wasps in the previous fixture, only one went into the net. Even so, that was at the courtesy of a penalty by Iqbal Hussain.


Geylang head coach Noor Ali's attacking woes are not helped by the suspension of Naufal Azman, who was contentiously dismissed for alleged elbowing during the previous Brunei DPMM fixture.


Naufal's absence is likely to see Iqbal switching from his left-winger position to a frontman role, with Arshard Shamin or Ahmad Syahir filling in on the left of midfield.


While securing three points against their more illustrious neighbours looks like a long shot this weekend, Geylang need to take inspiration from their sensational performance in the latest league encounter with Tampines in July where they held a strong self-belief till the end to snatch a last-gasp 3-2 victory.


Team news: Aside from Naufal, Geylang will also do without the services of Vincent Bezecourt and Huzaifah Aziz who are recovering from season-ending injuries.


Player to watch: Joshua Pereira - Deployed at the base of midfield in the past two cup games, the versatile player had shown glimpse of his combative self by winning possession and bringing the ball forward for the team. He was unlucky to have deflected Brunei DPMM's equalising strike into the net and thereafter struggled to stamp his mark in the game. His task in neutralising Kyoga Nakamura who has the knack of unlocking defences may well be key to the outcome of the match.

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