Match Preview: Faizal Has Big Boots to Fill in Tajeli's Absence
Geylang International have a point to prove that their recent resurgence is no fluke, when their credentials are put to the test against league leaders Lion City Sailors at Our Tampines Hub this Saturday (July 16).
Having ended their 11-game winless sequence with a victory over Tanjong Pagar United, the Eagles subsequently clocked two more wins on the road against Balestier Khalsa and Young Lions.
The revitalised side have also been watertight in defence, having not conceded for the last 270 minutes.
One key member of the solid backline is right-back Tajeli Salamat. Since making his debut against Tampines Rovers in June, the Sailors loanee has been named Man of the Match twice - joint-second to top performer Zaiful Nizam who has four.
The 28-year-old Singaporean was most recently awarded MoM during the previous fixture against Young Lions. That match saw him scoring a goal from a tight angle and putting crosses into the box which unsettled the Cubs defenders.
With Tajeli sitting out of the forthcoming game against his parent club due to the loan deal, his energetic presence on the right flank will be sorely missed.
A reshuffling of the backline by head coach Noor Ali is inevitable with one option seeing Faizal Roslan shifting from his preferred centre-back position to the right of defence.
That latter position was not unfamiliar to the 1.81m defender as he played the right-back role over two matches in the absence of injured Fadli Kamis. But his performance in those games against Hougang United (goalless draw) and Albirex Niigata (8-2 defeat) left much to be desired.
Playing in an unnatural spot, Faizal tended to go for the safer options of side passes to his nearest teammates or pump the ball forward when put under pressure by opposing players. The centre-back did not seem comfortable making those attacking forays like what a right-back would do.
Given the dearth of natural right-backs ahead of the home clash against firm favourites Lion City Sailors, Noor would have to make do with the available personnel at his disposal. Hopefully, Faizal could put in an all-round performance against the star-studded opponents and repay the manager's faith in his capability.
Team news: Besides the absence of right-backs Fadli Kamis and Tajeli Salamat, Geylang International are not likely to have the services of Fareez Farhan due to an unspecified injury.