News Singapore Premier League • July 6, 2018
Singapore Premier League Preview: Geylang and Hougang to slug it out
Ryan Syaffiq has been a mainstay in the Geylang International FC side this season.
SINGAPORE, 6 JULY 2018 – Stuck at the wrong end of the table, Geylang International FC and Hougang United FC face off in a crucial six-pointer on Saturday evening, 7 July that could decide who finishes bottom in this Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) season. The match will kick off at Bedok Stadium at 5.30pm.
BACKGROUND Different game, same old story for Hougang as they were made to pay for their profligacy in a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of runaway leaders Albirex Niigata FC (S) on Wednesday.
That made it two straight losses after a promising start to the Clement Teo era with four points from his first two matches.
The Cheetahs are now six points adrift of second-from-bottom Young Lions and a further point away from seventh-placed Geylang, and the likelihood of finishing as wooden spoonists for the first time since 2015 is increasing.
It is truly testing times but Vice-Captain Fabian Kwok is choosing to remain positive.
“The team showed fighting spirit against Albirex and we should have gotten a point from that game,” the 29-year-old said. “Despite the results this season, we do have the better chances in most matches, it’s only about finding the finishing touches and I trust that it will come for us soon.
“We have a young and eager squad where all players are fighting for positions in the first eleven, so the competition is high and healthy. The focus is on improving our game each and every time we step onto the field.”
Meanwhile for Geylang, they got a much-needed 3-1 win over Young Lions in midweek to stem a three-match losing streak.
However, the victory was tempered by a anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury to key forward Shawal Anuar, who will miss the rest of the season after suffering a complete tear.
His absence will be a big blow going into the business end of the season, but strike partner Fairoz Hasan is ready to step up and be the main goal-getter for the Eagles.
“If I have the opportunity to score goals, I will do it for the team,” said the 29-year-old, who is on his season-best tally of five goals to go with three assists. “But ultimately it’s a team game, so all my teammates will surely do their best to chip in with goals as well.
“I’ve enjoyed playing alongside Shawal this season and we complemented each other well; I’m glad that Coach (Hirotaka Usui) experimented with our positioning and it gave me a chance to study his style of play.”
A win for Geylang could push them up to as high as fifth – depending on the result between Brunei DPMM FC and Balestier Khalsa FC on the same night – and 10 points clear of Hougang.
Geylang will continue to miss young defender Danish Irfan, who is away on international duty with the Singapore Under-19s, along with Shawal. The latter’s absence opens up an opportunity for 16-year-old attacker Zikos Chua, who made history on Wednesday as the league’s youngest ever player, to have an extended run in the first team.
First-choice goalkeeper Zainol Gulam missed the Young Lions victory through injury, but is expected to be back for this game.
Hougang are sweating on the fitness of wide man Nazrul Nazari, who was substituted early against Albirex due to a shoulder injury, while forward Shahfiq Ghani remains doubtful after missing the last four games due to an ankle injury.
Defender Illyas Lee was not risked against Albirex due to a groin injury, but should recover in time for this one. Midfielder Syahiran Miswan will also return from a one-game suspension.
12/05/18: Hougang 1-3 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
18/08/17: Hougang 0-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
20/05/17: Geylang 1-1 Hougang – League Cup
27/02/17: Hougang 2-0 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
20/10/16: Hougang 0-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Ryan Syaffiq – Geylang
Taking down the ball with his chest and controlling it with his right foot, before lashing home with his left – Ryan’s goal against Young Lions had class written all over it. The 23-year-old has morphed into a more effective player since joining Geylang in the off-season and his industry down the right flank has helped the team on several occasions.
Iqbal Hussain – Hougang
After an early-season sparkle with three goals in seven matches, Iqbal has found the going tough lately after returning from injury. Nonetheless, the 25-year-old has the technical ability to trouble any opponent and he will relish his chance of getting back amongst the goals against a side that has conceded the most in the league.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Geylang forward Fairoz: “I got to agree with Coach that we didn’t play to our fullest potential against Young Lions. The quality of our play can be better and we were lucky to win. It serves us a lesson for us not to take it for granted for future games.
“It was a great result, beating Hougang 3-1 away earlier in May. We all trusted each other and worked really hard for that game. I believe we can create such play again if we give our full concentration from the start. It won’t be easy because Hougang just changed their Coach and tactics, but we will fight hard for the three points!”
Hougang midfielder Kwok: “We have three games coming up in eight days, which is tough but it also gives opportunities to some players to step up and show their worth.
“We go into every game looking for the win because no one likes to lose. We have to continue believing and create chances to win the game. Geylang is still quite close to us in the table… With a game in hand, we definitely want to tighten the gap by getting these three points..”