The signing of Shahfiq Ghani at the start of the 2023 season had raised eyebrows among the Geylang International community.
Known more for his deadball abilities than his goalscoring record, the Singaporean midfielder was seen as surplus requirements to the squad, with Takahiro Tezuka and Vincent Bezecourt already available as corner/freekick takers.
So when his services were called upon at half-time to overturn a one-goal deficit against Balestier Khalsa last Friday, it was thought to be a hopeful move that perhaps one of his setpieces would pay off.
Instead, that substitution turned out to be a shrewd tactical switch as Shahfiq who was deployed as a false nine, ran riot on the Tigers defence and registered a goal and an assist to help his 10-man side to a 3-2 victory.
The impressive performance put in by the former Young Lions prodigy certainly gives head coach Noor Ali food for thought on the setup of the Eagles attacking unit for the midweek fixture against Brunei DPMM (June 28).
Despite having just recovered from a post-meniscus surgery, a temptation is to unleash Shahfiq from the start, which would be at the expense of Naufal Azman who misfired in the previous game and had to be hauled off at half-time.
Getting the right attacking configuration is critical for Geylang as they seek to improve their head-to-head record against the Wasps.
Out of the previous 22 league meetings, the Eagles have come out tops on only six occasions, with the latest being a 3-1 win in April.
Scoring a consecutive league victory against the Bruneian outfit will see fifth-placed Geylang leapfrog Balestier in fourth and improve their chances of qualifying for the AFC Cup as the third-best local team.
With continental football in sight, Noor hopes to count on Shahfiq to repeat his heroics as he did at Bishan Stadium.