Match Preview: Pereira's Suspension Gives Noor More Selection Headaches
Just as Geylang International head coach Noor Ali remains undecided on who his best full-backs are for this season, he has been handed with more selection headaches at the back with Joshua Pereira handed a yellow card suspension for the home clash against Balestier Khaksa on Tuesday (April 11).
Pereira picked up his fourth yellow card for a foul in the previous match against Albirex Niigata and now has to sit out for the midweek game.
With a dearth of centre-back options at his disposal, Noor experiences difficulty in naming one player who could partner Rio Sakuma and Amirul Adli in a five-man defence.
Looking at the squad list, there isn't a senior central defender whom Noor can call upon to shore up the backline.
Experienced campaigner Delwinder Singh - an eleventh hour signing in the pre-season transfer window - has been ruled out with an injury since joining the club last month and is unlikely to feature in the forthcoming match against the Tigers.
This may well force Noor's hand to switch back to a back four with Rio and Amirul pairing in the centre - a familiar line-up that was used at the start of this campaign.
Whatever the configuration, the objective for his defenders in the upcoming fixture is clear: secure the team's first clean sheet of the season.
Unlike last year's achievement of recording the most number of shutouts, the fourth-placed Eagles have not been able to keep the ball out of their net in their first seven matches, conceding 16 goals in the process.
Worryingly, their defensive fragility was badly exposed in the 6-1 drubbing by league champions Albirex Niigata at the start of April.
Noor has to make do with whatever limited defensive resources at his disposal to devise a way to tame the attacking-minded Tigers.
The sixth-placed rivals - only a point behind Geylang International - are currently the third highest scoring team in the league with 14 goals.
Among their attackers to keep a watchful eye on is Japanese playmaker Ryoya Taniguchi, who is also his club's current top goalscorer having already plundered six goals this season.
With the odds stacking against the hosts, Noor's understrength defensive charges have to do their upmost in holding the fort and help their team to a positive result so as to consolidate fourth spot.