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Match Preview: Faltering Eagles Look to Reignite Asian Dream

Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore

Conceding an injury-time equaliser against Tanjong Pagar United in the last fixture has dampened morale in the Geylang International camp, as it denied them the chance to return to winning ways.

Crucially, the Eagles' dream of playing Asian football via AFC Cup qualification has taken a huge blow as they fall nine points behind fourth-placed Balestier Khalsa, following the latter's 3-2 victory over Brunei DPMM the next day.

A chance will be presented for Geylang to narrow the gap when they play their game in hand against Tampines Rovers this Saturday (July 22).

However, there is no denying that the upcoming Eastern Derby against the joint league leaders is a daunting one for the green half of Tampines, especially with their star player Vincent Bezecourt ruled out for the rest of the campaign after picking up an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the previous encounter.

Without a playmaker in the side, the Eagles had lost their attacking verve in recent games, as evident in them putting fewer shots on target than their opponents.

The recent head-to-head records though may provide cause for optimism for Noor Ali and his injury-ravaged side. In the last three league encounters, Geylang have held their more illustrious neighbours to a stalemate.

The mid-table side would have to put in another spirited, gutsy performance to stand a chance of snapping their two-game winless run and keep alive their already slim hopes of Asian football.

Team news: Joining Vincent Bezecourt in Geylang's crowded treatment room are Amirul Adli, Huzaifah Aziz and Noor Ariff. Having lost the number 1 goalkeeping spot to Rudy Khairullah, it remains to be seen whether Hafiz Ahmad will be restored to the starting line-up. Danish Irfan's status is also uncertain after serving a one-match suspension.

Player to watch: Takahiro Tezuka - In the absence of teammate Bezecourt, the Japanese defensive midfielder had been tasked in recent games to join the attack by making late runs into the penalty area. The change in role was rewarded with a goal in the previous draw against Tanjong Pagar. Tezuka's improvised play, in addition to his free-kick abilities, would give Tampines defenders food for thought.

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