News Singapore Premier League • June 14, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Home focused on second as Geylang come calling


Iqram Rifqi netted his first professional goal last week.

SINGAPORE, 14 JUNE 2018Smarting from respective heavy losses in Week 10, Home United FC and Geylang International FC will be looking to bounce back when they face off at Bishan Stadium on Sunday evening, 17 June. The Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) match will kick off at 5.30pm.

BACKGROUND As the saying goes, you are only as good as your last game and both Home and Geylang will need little motivation to go out there to prove their worth in this upcoming clash.

After achieving back-to-back league wins (3-1 against Brunei DPMM FC and 4-1 against Young Lions) for the first time this season, Home harboured high hopes of upsetting Albirex Niigata FC (S) at their Jurong East fortress last Saturday.

The Protectors did well to keep the reigning champions at bay till half time, but it all went wrong in the second half as two quick goals after the restart and a late goal condemned them to a 3-0 defeat.

The result did not just mean that their title hopes are all but over as they are 22 points off the top; it also meant they now face an uphill battle in the race for second, with Tampines Rovers FC eight points better off.

Home Captain Izzdin Shafiq believes they can ill-afford to lose further points as they seek to make it a third successive year in AFC competitions in 2019.

“Right now we cannot think about Albirex or Tampines. We have to be focused on achieving more points for ourselves so that we can finish off the season well,” the 27-year-old said.

“We don’t feel that they (Albirex) are more superior as compared to us. It was the fact that most of the players are fasting that made it difficult for us to continue the intensity of the first half.

“We’re definitely upset over the result, so against Geylang is the chance for us to get back to winning ways so that we can stay close to the front-runners.”

As for Geylang, they did well to recover from their poor early-season form with a run of just one defeat in five matches.

However, the Eagles were then brought back down to earth by a rampant Brunei DPMM FC side in a 6-2 drubbing at their Bedok den last Sunday.

Coach Hirotaka Usui accused his players of being over-confident during the subsequent post-match press conference – something that midfielder Ryan Syaffiq does not disagree with.

“Before the (DPMM) game, the atmosphere in the dressing room was a bit different as compared to previous games – I felt like we were lacking hunger,” said the 23-year-old. “Probably, we’re not used to having a good run of form so we do not know how to deal with this kind of situation.

“That’s something which we have to work on and not repeat this same mistake. It’s very important for us to keep our feet on the ground, keep working towards our goal and not let a good run of form get into our heads too much.”

With both sides smarting from heavy defeats, Ryan believes desire instead of ability will decide this game at Bishan.

“Home’s definitely a good side, especially with a good bunch of national players,” he acknowledged. “But I think the team which has the most hunger and the most willingness to run the extra mile will edge this one.

“For us, we need to play our game, play to our strengths, play to the style that we work on during training and things will surely go our way.

Home will have to contend without the services of a number of key players. Juma’at Jantan and Sirina Camara are ruled out for the season, while Fazli Ayob is still a few weeks away from full fitness. Meanwhile Faritz Hameed will also miss the game due to a one-game suspension.

In contrast, Geylang have a virtually full-strength squad to call upon bar captain Anders Aplin. who is still recovering from groin surgery.

Geylang: WWLWL

22/04/18: Geylang 1-4 Home – Singapore Premier League
04/11/17: Home 2-1 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
23/09/17: Geylang 1-3 Home – Singapore Premier League
28/04/17: Home 3-0 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
25/10/16: Geylang 4-1 Home – Singapore Premier League

Iqram Rifqi – Home
He has had to bide his time this season, but Iqram is now slowly getting back into the reckoning for Aidil Sharin’s first eleven. The 22-year-old winger is a tricky customer with his nifty dribbling skills and is also a neat finisher with his sweet left foot.

Fumiya Kogure – Geylang
He has yet to find his best form in a Geylang shirt thus far, but Kogure is still a very much a classy player with his set-piece ability and vision to pick out his teammates from deep. The 28-year-old will surely be looking to add to his current tally of one goal and two assists.

Home midfielder Izzdin Shafiq:
“We know that there’s no easy game in this league, so we need to stay focused for the full 90 minutes to beat Geylang.

“It’s a great honour to be able to captain Home United this seaosn as this is one of the biggest clubs in Singapore football. There’re a lot of responsibilities as the captain, but it’s been a good experience for me. I have always loved challenges, so being the captain gives me a bigger challenge to improve myself as a player and also a person.”

Geylang midfielder Ryan Syaffiq: “I’m happy that I’ve been getting playing time here in Geylang, it’s not easy but I think I earned it through the hard work I put in training and in games. I’m very happy that I gained trust from Coach Usui and I’ve learnt so many things from him in my short time here. I really appreciate his work, not just with me but with the other players as well.

“It’s still a long way to go for me and I still got a lot to improve on. Obviously for this year, I’ve been converted to right wing-back – which is not my usual position and I’ve to take on the extra role of being a right-back. Coach has a plan for us and I’m happy to take up this new role to learn. The defensive part is something which I’ve to work on really hard and I hope I can perform better as the season progresses.”

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