Singapore Premier League • April 5, 2018
Singapore Premier League Preview: Tampines Rovers FC vs Geylang International FC
Ryutaro Megumi in action for Tampines Rovers FC against Geylang International FC last season.
SINGAPORE, 5 APRIL 2018 – Tampines Rovers FC are aiming to bounce back from last week’s disappointing 2-1 Community Shield defeat to Albirex Niigata FC (S) as they host Geylang International at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday evening, 7 April. The match will kick off at 5.30pm.
BACKGROUND With the first round of the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) fixtures done and dusted, the second round comes around quickly and will kick off with a bang as the Eastern giants go head to head.
Traditionally a feisty encounter, the rivalry between the two sides seemed to have died down in recent years when Tampines played their games away in the west.
However, normal service resumed after the Stags moved back to the east in August 2017 and the first Eastern Derby at their new home two months later ended in an epic five-goal thriller.
Geylang took the lead twice, only for Tampines to level each time before Fazli Ayob fired home a last-gasp winner and fans will be hoping for similar entertainment this time round.
Tampines are undoubtedly the favourites, given that they have more experienced heads in the squad and more days to recover – six after their last game as compared to Geylang’s two.
The Stags will also be looking to prove a point after failing to get the better of a new-look Albirex side for a sixth consecutive time.
However, one should not discount Geylang. The new-look Eagles side showed their mettle on Wednesday, producing a strong second-half performance to hold title-chasing Warriors FC to a 1-1 home draw.
In particular, the Eagles showcased superior fitness levels to last the game – an important facet of new Japanese coach Hirotaka Usui’s philosophy.
It remains to be seen if they can produce another courageous performance against a better-rested Tampines side, though.
TEAM NEWS Tampines have a clean bill of health apart from long-term injury victim Shannon Stephen. Key attackers Jordan Webb and Khairul Amri could be in line to start after coming on as substitutes the last time out.
As for Geylang, they will miss experienced defender Zulfadli Zainal Abidin through suspension after his straight red card against Warriors.
15/10/17: Geylang 2-3 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
11/07/17: Tampines 1-4 Geylang – League Cup
29/06/17: Tampines 1-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
08/04/17: Geylang 0-4 Tampines – Singapore Premier League
04/08/16: Tampines 2-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR
Ryutaro Megumi – Tampines
With searing pace and determination to get the ball in from wide areas, Megumi was one of the standout performers for the Stags in 2017. His tally of seven goals in 24 games also got the Japanese winger a deserved nomination for last season’s Player of the Year award.
We have yet to see the best of him after an injury-blighted pre-season, but the 24-year-old has what it takes to rise to the occasion.
Shawal Anuar – Geylang
Similarly, Shawal had an impressive 2017 season where he hit double figures and went on a seven-match scoring spree along the way.
The electric 26-year-old has carried where he left off this term, with good performances for the Singapore National Team before starring in the Eagles’ 1-1 draw against Warriors. It was his unwavering determination that saw him earn the ball off Kento Fukuda in the build-up of the late equaliser.
WHAT ELSE THEY SAID
Tampines midfielder Amirul Adli: “It wasn’t the result we wanted against Albirex, but we showed great composure and continued to play our style of football even when we were down. That’s something that we have to keep on doing in future matches.
“For me, I take the Eastern Derby just like any other game. We just have to give our best and play good quality football for the fans. The team’s been getting better after a few AFC Cup matches and I’m confident that we will get that first win soon.”
Geylang defender Darren Teh: “This match-up has always proved to be an exciting one as neither team wants to lose bragging rights to be the best in the East. I still remember that 3-2 defeat last season and that was definitely a hard one to swallow.
“We have a massively busy schedule in April with six games so it’s important that we do not start this month with a defeat. We had one of the hardest pre-season trainings amongst the nine teams in the league, as our new coach wants to instill the Japanese culture where fitness is the priority. That helped us against Warriors where we showed we were much fitter than our opponents.”
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