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Match Preview: Free-falling Eagles Desperate to Halt Losing Run

Photo credit: Idi Bakhtiar

With Geylang International failing to build on their promising start to the 2023 Singapore Premier League season and their campaign taking a turn for the worse after losing three games on the trot in May, dark clouds have started to swirl around Our Tampines Hub as the fallen Singaporean giants languish fifth in a nine-team table.

While few expected the Eagles to pick up a positive result against a star-studded Lion City Sailors squad, games against Hougang United and Tanjong Pagar United - who themselves were on an extended winless run - were viewed as winnable.

In a post-match interview against the Jaguars last weekend, Geylang head coach Noor Ali remained optimistic of the campaign ahead, highlighting the decent play his charges had put in. But there is no denying that with each defeat the Eagles are edging precariously towards a disastrous season.

Noor's woes have not been helped that players have been coming in and out of the treatment room since pre-season. Just when the Singaporean trainer received a clean bill of health for his squad recently, he was subsequently hit by new injuries to Huzaifah Aziz, Rio Sakuma and Naufal Azman, which constantly disrupted his game plans.

Unfortunately, strengthening of a free-falling Eagles has to be put on hold until the mid-season transfer window opens next Wednesday. In the meantime, Noor has to make do with whatever depleting resources at his disposal when his team travel to Jalan Besar Stadium for their clash with Young Lions this weekend (May 27).

The youthful hosts, mostly comprising the Under-22 national squad who participated in the recent SEA Games, are licking their wounds after suffering a torrid regional outing, with one draw and three losses, including a 7-0 humiliation by Causeway rivals Malaysia.

Without their coach Philippe Aw in the dugout after he was placed on a gardening leave by the FA, the developmental team under the interim stewardship of Fadzuhasny Juraimi and Koichiro Iizuka will be itching to secure a morale-boosting result against Geylang.

That was almost achieved in their earlier encounter this season when Young Lions led twice before succumbing to a 4-2 defeat.

If past lessons were not heeded and righted on the training ground, a fourth defeat in a row for the Eagles is not unthinkable.

Player to watch: Amirul Adli - With Rio Sakuma's availability in doubt and Joshua Pereira struggling with fitness, the spotlight is on the 22-cap Singapore defender to give leadership and restore calm to the defence. His task would be vital considering that his leaky backline have only collected one clean sheet all season and conceded eight goals in the last three fixtures.

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