Updated: Aug 13
On top of Geylang International head coach Noor Ali's mind is to return the club to winning ways as they enter into the final stretch of their league campaign, starting with an away game against title challengers Albirex Niigata on Sunday (August 14).
Prior to the derby defeat last week, the club legend, who won the league title as an Eagles player in 2001, led the former giants to a remarkable seven-game unbeaten run, collecting 17 points from a possible 21.
That undefeated sequence saw Geylang International leapfrog Balestier Khalsa to sixth and throw themselves into contention of an AFC Cup qualifying spot, currently held by third-placed Tanjong Pagar United who are six points ahead.
Noor is to be credited for turning around the Eagles' fortunes, which has made up for the club's woeful start to the campaign when they chalked a solitary win from the first 12 matches.
It was only a couple of months ago when the gaffer's position was under intense scrutiny, with online chatters calling for an end to his four-year tenure.
No knee-jerk action was taken by the board and their full backing on the long-serving manager has been duly rewarded by the team's improved showing.
But the latest loss at the hands of their cross-town rivals, Tampines Rovers, is a reminder that Geylang International are not out of the woods yet. Much work remains to be done for the mid-table side to finish the season in a respectable league position.
Noor would have his work cut out in his next assignment against a formidable side coached by Kazuaki Yoshinaga, whom he had not been able to outfox in the previous five meetings.
The head-to-head record reveals that the Eagles coach had suffered four heavy defeats at the hands of his opposite number (4-0, 5-0, 7-2, 8-2). The only time Noor did not lose was an home encounter earlier this season which ended 2-2.
With Yoshinaga's team in free-scoring form and in relentless pursuit of the league championship, Noor would have to rally his charges to put in a spirited performance and hope for the best in grinding a positive result at the Jurong East Stadium.
Team news: Fadli Kamis and Fareez Farhan remain long-term absentees and will play no part in Sunday's fixture.