Match Preview: Plucky Eagles Wary of Young Lions Backlash
On the back of a surprise 1-1 draw against five-time title holders Tampines Rovers in Saturday's season opener, Geylang International know that every point matters in the early stage of the Singapore Premier League campaign if they were to realise their objective of qualifying for next season's AFC Cup.
With a point against their more illustrious neighbours already in the bag, there is growing confidence within the Eagles camp in keeping the momentum going and building on the positive start to the season.
Having exerted much energy to secure a hard-fought draw, the players are only given 72 hours to recharge for their home encounter against Young Lions on Tuesday (February 28).
Besides recovery work, shooting practice would also be of priority on the training ground.
Despite registering more shots than the Stags (10-8) with six on target, Geylang International only mustered a goal in the game.
A lack of composure from Vincent Bezecourt, Yushi Yamaya and Takahiro Tezuka, coupled with a series of outstanding saves from Syazwan Buhari, denied the Eagles from netting an unlikely winner.
To fit the final puzzle in attack, head coach Noor Ali has been trying to secure the signature of setpiece specialist Shahfiq Ghani.
A source shares that the former Eagles, who previously played for the club between 2016 and 2017, is attempting to pass a Yo-Yo test.
If the test goes well with the necessary paperwork done, Noor may be able to unleash his man against Young Lions.
Another issue the 47-year-old trainer is keen to pre-empt is complacency possibly creeping into the heads of his charges.
"It's not going to be easy against any team in SPL this season, not even the Young Lions," Noor warned in a post-match interview after the Tampines game.
Even though the Under-23 developmental side have been written off as no-hopers this season, they are able to count on their two quality foreign imports: Kan Kobayashi and Jun Kobayashi.
The two Kobayashis were integral to Albirex Niigata's title success last year and both hope to impart their winning mentality to their new teammates.
It is also worth noting of the Eagles' initial struggles against the Cubs in the first half of the previous campaign: a 4-1 humilating defeat followed by a frustrating 2-2 draw.
With the Young Lions having a point to prove on the back of a heavy 3-0 opening loss to Albirex Niigata, the forthcoming home clash may look tighter than it looks on paper.
Team news: Fadli Kamis and Ahmad Syahir remain out with anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus injuries, respectively.
There is a 50% chance of Shahfiq Ghani making to the matchday squad if he passes his Yo-Yo test.
Player to watch: Yushi Yamaya - The new foreign signing put in a decent shift in his debut against Tampines Rovers, as he registered one assist that evening - albeit a fortuitous one as the ball from Akmal Azman grazed his knee before reaching goalscorer Vincent Bezecourt.
But there is an expectation that the Japanese recruit, who was recommended by the City Football Group, could have done better on the goalscoring front had he shown more composure and better decision-making in the derby.
Yamaya was reported to have set a lofty target of scoring 20 goals this season and fans are hoping his first wouldn't take too long to arrive.