Singapore Premier League • April 2, 2018
Singapore Premier League Preview: Geylang International FC vs Warriors FC
Geylang International attacker Shawal Anuar will be a key man for the hosts this season.
SINGAPORE, 2 April 2018 – Warriors FC kick off their quest for a 10th domestic league title on Wednesday, 4 April with a trip to Bedok Stadium to face Geylang International. The match is scheduled to kick off at 7.45pm.
BACKGROUND Last season’s fourth and fifth-placed teams face off in the opening week of the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League season as they seek to finish in the higher echelons of the table this time round.
Under the tutelage of Noor Ali, Geylang International achieved a top-four finish for the first time in 14 years last term. However, the former Singapore international has since left for a 10-month attachment with Japan J2 outfit Matsumoto Yamaga, leaving assistant Hirotaka Usui to take the reins.
The 37-year-old latter has it all to do in his first appointment as head coach after the Eagles underwent a massive revamp in terms of playing personnel in the off-season, with just four players retained from last season.
Amongst the new arrivals are 2015 Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure, experienced playmaker Azhar Sairudin as well as former Young Lions duo Yeo Hai Ngee and Ryan Syaffiq.
Similarly for Warriors FC, they have a change in gaffer after a disappointing 2017 campaign where they finished outside the top four for a third successive season.
Former forward Mirko Grabovac has taken over from Razif Onn in the dugout and the Croatian is looking to bring back the glory days for the nine-time champions.
They appear to have recruited well, having brought in former LionsXII duo Sahil Suhaimi and Khairul Nizam, as well as the likes of Ismadi Mukhtar, Shamil Sharif and Ammirul Emmran.
French forward Jonathan Behe is also back with the club after spending 2017 in Malaysia’s second-tier Premier League with Sabah and Negeri Sembilan.
TEAM NEWS Geylang have a fully-fit squad with no major injuries or suspensions.
As for the Warriors, they will have to contend without Sahil and Nizam. The former has yet to receive his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) from former employers Sarawak FA, while the latter is still recovering from a long-term injury.
15/09/2017 Warriors 0-2 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
16/06/2017 Geylang 0-2 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
10/03/2017 Warriors 1-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
14/10/2016 Geylang 2-1 Warriors – Singapore Premier League
25/07/2016 Geylang 1-0 Warriors – League Cup
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Fumiya Kogure (Geylang)
It was a real coup for the Eagles to have secured the signing of Kogure, who has previous experience of playing in the J-League.
An elegant playmaker who has the eye for the killer pass and the ability to strike mean free-kicks, the 28-year-old shone in his debut season in Singapore with Albirex Niigata FC (S) in 2015 before spending the next two years with Hougang.
It will be interesting to see how he links up with Singapore international Shawal Anuar in the attacking third.
Jonathan Behe (Warriors)
Blessed with blistering pace and superb finishing skills, Behe impressed in his first stint with the Warriors as he scored 19 goals to finish joint-second top scorer in the 2016 campaign.
Now back with the uniformed outfit, the 29-year-old Frenchman has already shown promising signs in pre-season by notching a few goals.
Expect him to hit the ground running as he looks to bag the Golden Boot this time round.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Geylang midfielder Fairoz Hasan: “It’s going to be an exciting match because of the new team we have. At the same time, it will be a challenging one as it’s the first time we work together for a competitive game. Nonetheless we’re all looking forward to this game and I hope we won’t disappoint our fans.”
Warriors defender Emmeric Ong: “I think the team has been working really hard over the past two to three months. It’s been a long and tough pre-season, so everyone can’t wait to get the season started. It’s important for us to bring back all three points on Wednesday as getting a good start will be a huge morale booster.”
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