News • July 17, 2017

The New Paper League Cup 2017: Eagles Look To Take Down White Swans



The New Paper League Cup 2017 Semi-Final

Albirex Niigata (S) vs Geylang International

(18 July, Tuesday, 7.30pm, Jurong East Stadium)

Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Geylang International head coach Noor Ali admits his team will go into their The New Paper League Cup Semi-Final clash against Albirex Niigata (S) on Tuesday night as underdogs, but is relishing the challenge.

In their final Group B match four days ago, the Eagles let slip a two-goal lead to eventually share the spoils in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Brunei DPMM and progress as the second-placed team.

A total of five Prime League players started that match against the Wasps with a host of key players such as skipper Isa Halim, Anders Aplin and Amy Recha all rested.

Up against holders Albirex, Noor believes it will be ‘tough’ but insists anything can happen.

“I’ve said at the press conference after the Tampines game that there are no easy games at all,” the ex-international stated.

“All the four teams who are in the semi-finals deserve to be in there. Warriors (who play DPMM) for instance, are a team with quality players and it’s not going to be easy to play beat them.

“It’s the same thing for us, it’s not going to be easy for us against Albirex who are a good team. But it’s always nice to meet a team like this. You go into the match as underdogs, work hard, take them on and let’s see what happens from there.

“At the end of the day, I definitely want my team to be in the final.”

Echoing the sentiments of his coach, Geylang defender Al-Qaasimy Rahman said: “Everyone knows Albirex is a tough team to play against.

“But if we were to be thrown to play against any other team for the semi finals, it’ll be just as tough. That said, the team is full of confidence with the positive results recently and we are determined to keep this run going.”

And the former Garena Young Lions player is not taken aback at how the Eagles have fared in the competition so far.

“With the hard work we’ve put in as well as the spirit in the team, it isn’t a surprise that we’ve reached the semifinals,” the 25-year-old shared.

“Even before the start of the League Cup campaign, we already had our sights on making the final. With everything going according to plan, we are where we are now.”

Holders Albirex meanwhile, edged Home United 1-0 the last time out to top Group A with two wins and one draw.

White Swans coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga was pleased with how his team managed to emerge from the group stage unbeaten.

“We played against some very tough teams from the S.League in Group A and I think it’s good that we are through to the last four,” he shared.

“This will give us the extra confidence to go on to play in the semi-finals and even the final.”

With an extra day of rest as compared to Geylang, Yoshinaga reckons this could give them the edge over their opponents.

“I think it makes a big difference – to have one more day of rest than the teams in Group B,” he said.

“I don’t want my players to rest too much and I believe they can only get stronger from going through this tough fixture list. Players in Europe encounter a similar situation and I want my players to model themselves after them.”

Albirex will however sweat over the fitness of midfielder Koki Sato who was stretchered off midway through against Geylang after picking up a knock to the ankle.

Albirex Niigata (S) – LLDWW

13/07/17 Home United 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S) (The New Paper League Cup)

10/07/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 2-0 Warriors FC (The New Paper League Cup)

07/07/17 Hougang United 0-0 Albirex Niigata (S) (The New Paper League Cup)

03/07/17 Hougang United 2-1 Albirex Niigata (S)

23/06/17 Albirex Niigata (S) 0-2 Home United

Geylang International – DWWWD

14/07/17 Brunei DPMM 3-3 Geylang International (The New Paper League Cup)

11/07/17 Tampines Rovers 1-4 Geylang International (The New Paper League Cup)

08/07/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-2 Geylang International (The New Paper League Cup)

02/07/17 Geylang International 2-1 Garena Young Lions

29/06/17 Tampines Rovers 1-1 Geylang International