Having celebrated his 47th birthday last Monday (May 16), Geylang International head coach Noor Ali certainly hopes for his players to deliver a belated birthday gift by beating Hougang United when the two teams meet for a Singapore Premier League game this Sunday.
A club legend who had won a league title and a Singapore Cup with the Eagles, Noor faces an uphill task in improving the team's second-from-bottom position in the league.
For all the tenacity and fighting spirit his players had displayed for the majority of the campaign, the inability to convert chances into goals contributed to the side's lowly league placing.
In fact, Geylang International's nine goals this season is the lowest number in the league. Even cellar dwellers Young Lions fare better with 12 goals scored.
The Eagles' profligacy in front of goal was on show in the previous match against Lion City Sailors. While the players have attempted more shots than their more illustrious opponents (11-7), it was the Sailors who scored the solitary goal, condemning the seventh-placed side to their fifth defeat of the season.
The previous meeting against upcoming rivals Hougang United serves as an important reminder of being able to outscore the other team. That see-saw game ended 3-2 in favour of the Cheetahs, with their star midfielder André Moritz scoring a last-minute winning goal from kick off.
To avoid a déjà vu, the forward trio of Šime Žužul, Hazzuwan Halim and Khairul Hairie have to find their scoring boots and settle the contest as quickly as possible.
Team news: Fadli Kamis recently completed his anterior cruciate ligament operation and is making a speedy recovery. However, the right back is not expected to be back in action anytime soon. Joining him on the sidelines is Kieran Teo who is down with coronavirus. Fareez Farhan, Yeo Hai Ngee and Suria Prakash are doubts for the game.
Player to watch: Vincent Bezecourt - The top dribbler in the league was back at his best against Lion City Sailors as he carved out six goalscoring opportunities for himself - the most by a player in the game. The French signing was also seen taking the initiative to organise Geylang's forward line. A heartbeat of the Eagles attack, his creativity, off-the-ball movements and visionary passes would be crucial in aiding his attacking teammates to unlock the Hougang United defence.