News Singapore Premier League • June 22, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Beleaguered Geylang host rampant Albirex


Yuki Ichikawa of Geylang International FC in action.

SINGAPORE, 22 JUNE 2018Albirex Niigata FC (S) are hoping to continue their march towards the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) title as they travel across the island to face Geylang International FC at Bedok Stadium on Sunday, 24 June. The match will kick off at 5.30pm.

BACKGROUND It has been nearly a year since Albirex tasted defeat after Hougang United FC managed a 2-1 league victory over them on 3 July, 2017 at Hougang Stadium.

Since then, no one seems to have had a clue on how to stop the White Swans, as they embarked on a 32-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Nobody is expecting that to end any time soon, particularly when Albirex’s next opponents are second-from-bottom Geylang .

The Eagles have had a stop-start season so far, losing eight games out of the 13 played. Much of this can be attributed to their woeful defensive displays after leaking 31 goals in 13 games – the worst in the league.

Even recent history seems to suggest Geylang will find the going tough. The White Swans have beaten Geylang each time in their last six encounters, trouncing them by a five-goal margin in the last three.

Albirex need to be wary though. Against Tampines Rovers FC, which ended 4-3 in their favour, the Stags showed that this Japanese side has chinks in their armour that can be exploited.

The Jurong East outfit has not played a game in two weeks and are well rested for this clash.

Shun Kumagai will miss out for Albirex but there is good news on Adam Swandi as the Singapore international seems set for a return, albeit with a place on the bench.

Anders Aplin has returned to training for Geylang but this game might be too early for him. Ryan Syaffiq is a doubt after he suffered a knock in the match with Home United.

Geylang: WLWLL
Albirex: WWWWW

28/04/18: Albirex 5-0 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
17/11/17: Geylang 2-7 Albirex – Singapore Premier League
05/08/17: Albirex 5-0 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
18/07/17: Albirex 4-0 Geylang – League Cup
11/05/17: Geylang 0-1 Albirex – Singapore Premier League

Yuki Ichikawa – Geylang
More than ever, Geylang will need Ichikawa to lead the back-line against the relentless Albirex. The defender has been with Geylang since 2014, after moving over from the White Swans and he might know a trick or two to stop his former club.

Kenya Takahashi – Albirex
A converted left-back that can hit the ball with utmost precision, Takahashi is well on his way towards meeting his target of scoring five set-pieces after getting two in the bag. If Geylang are to play defensively, then he could well decide the tie with a dead ball.

Geylang defender Darren Teh:
“It’s important for me to be playing regularly and getting more exposure at the highest level in Singapore. I’m thankful to be part of every single minute thus far for the club. We definitely didn’t start the season well but I think as a team, we have been improving as the season goes by and we are raring to go.

“Without a doubt, Albirex are the strongest in our league currently. However, I think the pressure this coming Sunday will be on them to deliver and we’re definitely going into the game as underdogs. I’m sure our coach will have a game plan for us and hopefully, if we execute it perfectly, I’m sure collectively as a team we’ll definitely be able to grind out a result together.”

Albirex defender Takahashi: “To play all 12 games without being substituted off and contributing to the team makes me proud of my current form. However, I feel that it is more important that the team wins more than my personal performances. Of course, as each game we win, the confidence starts flowing. However, Head Coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga always keeps us grounded. We know that we have to improve more because each one of us wants to play football at a higher level.”

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