News Singapore Premier League • July 3, 2018

Singapore Premier League Preview: Lightweight Young Lions seek first win in eight against Geylang


Young Lions midfielder Joshua Pereira returns from suspension for this match.

SINGAPORE, 2 JULY 2018Young Lions are in danger of slipping further down the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SPL) table when they take on Geylang International FC at Jalan Besar Stadium on 4 July at 7.45pm.

BACKGROUND After a relatively strong start to the new campaign, the Young Lions have found things difficult in the past few months.

Third from bottom with 13 points from 13 matches, only Geylang and Hougang United FC have a poorer tally – the former with 11 and the Cheetahs with seven.

Both sides played out a 1-1 draw earlier in the season, with Ifwat Ismail coming off the bench to haunt his former club with an equaliser and salvage a point for Fandi Ahmad’s men.

The Eagles had won the last six head to head encounters prior to that and a win for them here will see them overtake the Young Lions and that should be the only result acceptable for them, given the quality and experience they possess compared to their younger counterparts.

Neither team have been particularly inspirational of late, with Young Lions failing to pick up any wins in seven games.

They did halt a four-game losing streak by holding Home United FC to a 1-1 draw in their last game, but to make too much of the result would be folly, given how the Protectors missed foreigners Song Ui-Young and Sirina Camara.

Geylang on the other hand have lost their last three fixtures, conceding an alarming 11 goals along the way. They were last beaten 3-0 by Albirex Niigata FC (S).

But the Eagles gave a good fight against the reigning champions and will be confident of their chances, especially with the hosts set to miss some key players.

Young Lions Head Coach Fandi Ahmad will have a selection dilemma on his hands and it is not a good one.

Leading scorer Ikhsan Fandi missed out against Home after playing through injury earlier in the season and could sit this out.

His brother Irfan Fandi is reportedly away on trial, while Hami Syahin, Zulqarnaen Suzliman and Zharfan Rohaizad will all be unavailable after picking up bookings against Home.

The Young Lions will get some reprieve in the form of Joshua Pereira, who is available once again after serving his one-game suspension.

Geylang on the other hand have a fully fit squad to pick from, with captain Anders Aplin back in full training again, apart from defender Danish Irfan, who is away with the Singapore Under-19s on international duty.

Young Lions: LLLLD
Geylang: LWLLL

09/05/18: Geylang 1-1 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
21/10/17: Young Lions 0-4 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
02/07/17: Geylang 2-1 Young Lions – Singapore Premier League
15/04/17: Young Lions 0-2 Geylang – Singapore Premier League
18/08/16: Young Lions 0-2 Geylang – Singapore Premier League

Joshua Pereira – Young Lions
The midfielder has been an ever-present for his team and is beginning to stamp his mark in the middle of the park, holding off bigger opponents while pulling the strings.

With Hami Syahin out suspended, Pereira is expected to assume the mantle as the Young Lions’ midfield lynchpin and add to his one goal and two assists in 12 games so far.

Shawal Anuar – Geylang
It will be a surprise if clubs are not swooping around for Shawal’s services come the end of the year. The forward has six strikes in the bag so far this year and is the Eagles’ most potent offensive threat.

The Singapore international was a menace against Albirex and he was unlucky not to find the back of the net; the Young Lions will need to shackle him closely if they want to come away with a result.

Young Lions Captain Taufiq Muqminin:
“It has been hard for me with injuries keeping me in and out recently, but the coaches and staff and my team have always been there giving me motivation to keep on going.

“For this season, I really wanted to gain back the loss of playing time for the past years. So far, I’ve been playing in matches and I’m really thankful for that. It won’t be an easy game, but we are going all out for the three points! We are hungry and I believe the team will give their very best for the game.

“The game where we drew against Geylang 1-1, we had many chances and we didn’t convert them. We knew that we could have done better in that game, so this time we are going into the game stronger. The team have been working very hard in training, we also had difficulty last month in having proper training because of the hectic schedule of games so now that we have the time, the coaches have been making full use of it.”

Geylang defender Afiq Yunos: “It was a great debut game with Geylang and I’m excited to play more for this team in further matches. We played well but Albirex were more clinical than us.

“Against the Young Lions, we will do our best as a team to add three points for the next game. They held Geylang to a 1-1 draw last time so this shows they are not an easy team to beat.

“I hope to bring the best of my abilities and help Geylang take as many points as possible until the end of the season with Geylang. They do not have the best defensive record in the league but I don’t think it’s a fair reflection of this team’s true quality. We can definitely do better and we hope to show it to our fans.”

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