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Match Preview: Zikos is Back to Terrify Defences

Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore

Geylang International forward Zikos Chua reminded the Singapore Premier League (SPL) why he was once a football prodigy when he came off the bench against Hougang United with 16 minutes remaining on the clock to put in two goals and an assist which helped his team storm to a 6-2 victory on June 14.

The super-sub's heroics catapulted the two-time league champions to the summit of the SPL albeit for 48 hours.

As part of his goal celebrations that night, Chua - who already has a chant with his name belting out from the stands - ran towards the away section to show his love and appreciation to the fervent Ultras Eagles (UE) contingent.

Those jubilant scenes conjured memories of the then 17-year-old's breakout season in 2019 where he found the net five times in 11 appearances for the Eagles - four of which turned out to be winning goals against Albirex Niigata, Warriors FC and Young Lions.

Long-time Geylang supporter Nabil recalls how it was not all smooth-sailing for the Kastoria-born player during his first stint with the eastern Singapore club.

"Zikos had to juggle between football and his school work. This was made more challenging when he joined the senior setup and was thrown into first team action at a fairly tender age."

Thankfully, it was his positive attitude that helped him find his footing in professional football.

"What made Zikos stand out from the rest of the youth players of his cohort was his strong determination," shares Alex Bong, an ardent UE member.

His observation is concurred by fellow fan Nash Daud. "He had this burning desire to succeed. There was so much promise that he was touted as the next big thing in Singapore football."

Just as Chua's fledging footballing career was taking off, his prolific 2019 season was abruptly cut short by a cruciate ligament injury. He then saw little action in an Eagles shirt during the subsequent two years due to further studies and National Service (NS).

A move to Young Lions was then brokered in 2022 so that the then Under-23 Singapore international could continue playing football while serving his NS.

In his time away from the Eagles Nest, Chua continued to make a name for himself by setting new records on the pitch. On August 7, 2022, he became the youngest footballer in Singapore to score four goals in a league match.

With the end of his two-year military conscription, the club hierarchy at Geylang was made aware on the availability of their former academy player and swiftly secured his services for the 2024-25 campaign.

However, the Geylang faithful have not been able to see much of Chua in action, given head coach Noor Ali's preference for fellow striker Tomoyuki Doi to front the attack, which leaves the young Singaporean forward to contend a place on the bench.

Even with his latest goal exploits against the Cheetahs, it remains a tall order for the 1.82m poacher to dislodge Doi whose redhot scoring streak has seen him topping the SPL goalscorer charts with eight goals.

Nevertheless, diehard Eagles supporters like Alex and Nash hope that Chua could keep up the good performance and pump in more goals for their beloved team, starting from the away fixture against Brunei DPMM this Saturday (June 22).

"Once he is on a roll in front of goal, it won't be long for him to earn a debut call-up to the Lions squad," shares Nabil as he places his faith on the local lad to fly the Singapore flag high one day.

Team news: Huzaifah Aziz is the only absentee from the Geylang squad as he faces a long road to recovery from his anterior cruciate ligament injury. Shakir Hamzah may be fit enough to start on the left side of defence ahead of Akmal Azman, who deputised for the former in the previous fixture.

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