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Match Preview: Eagles Trying to Get the Best Out of Doi

Photo credit: Geylang International

New Geylang International signing Tomoyuki Doi has hit the ground running for the 2024-25 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season by scoring two goals in as many league games. But the Eagles fraternity feel that the coaching staff and players have yet to get the best out of the 2021 SPL Golden Boot winner.

This depends how quickly Doi's new teammates can adapt to his playing style. As explained by an Ultras Eagles (UE) member, "Doi wants ball to feet, kind of 'lazy' but can finish. The team is still trying to suit his game rather than vice versa."

Unfortunately, Doi's introduction to the squad has hampered the contributions of midfield maestro Vincent Bezecourt. Nas Marjuki, a regular face at Geylang games, observes, "Bezecourt is still getting around in understanding how Doi plays. When Doi drops deep and dribbles the ball forward, Bezecourt is not sure whether to move forward as a striker or play alongside him to string a few passes into the box."

To complicate matters further, Eagles head coach Noor Ali has to figure out how to fit another new signing Ryoya Taniguchi in his attacking force.

A centre attacking midfielder by trade, Taniguchi - when starting on the right side of the attacking third in the previous match against Tampines Rovers - tended to drift inwards and got into the way of Bezecourt at times.

In an unfortunate twist of fate, a serious knee injury to Huzaifah Aziz before the half-time break of the Eastern Derby, turned out to be a blessing in disguise as a switch in playing positions for Bezecourt and Taniguchi improved the attacking flow and helped Geylang race to a two-goal lead midway through the second half.

During that blistering spell, Bezecourt as a deep lying playmaker was able to dictate play from deep and spray dangerous long forward passes, while Tanguchi's move to his preferred advanced centre position made him a greater goalscoring threat, as shown in his scoring of the Eagles' fourth goal.

While Geylang could not hold on to their lead and had to settle for a draw, the team's impressive attacking display has given UE supporters like Muhd Hairul food for thought.

"With more playing time together, I believe Taniguchi and Doi can strike a formidable partnership in attack," shares Hairul.

Coach Noor has another opportunity to finetune his attacking unit when his team entertain Young Lions at Jalan Besar Stadium this Saturday (May 25). Whatever team selection that is put out by the club legend, fans can almost be guaranteed of goals for this upcoming fixture.

The Eagles have been successful in breaching the Cubs' defences in the previous 29 meetings. The last time they failed to find the net against their rivals was a goalless stalemate in a league encounter in June 2014.

With trickier assignments against top-3 challengers like Lion City Sailors and Brunei DPMM lining up after the international break, time is running out for Geylang to get their attacking act together.

Team news: Huzaifah Aziz, who just returned from a long spell of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, found himself out of action for a long term again after re-injuring his ACL during the first half of the Stags game. Having been sidelined for the last two matches with a knee injury, Rio Sakuma may be rushed back into action against Young Lions in order to plug Geylang's porous defence.

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