News • July 7, 2017

The New Paper League Cup 2017: Tough Balestier Test Awaits Geylang


The New Paper League Cup 2017 (Group B)

Balestier Khalsa vs Geylang International

(8 July, Saturday, 7.30pm, Toa Payoh Stadium)

Written by: Phoon Jia Hui

Geylang International will open their The New Paper League Cup Group B campaign when they take on Balestier Khalsa at Toa Payoh Stadium on Saturday night.

The two teams were coincidentally placed in Group B of the same competition last year, as they shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw with a double from Geylang’s Mark Hartmann denying Balestier all three points.

Eagles head coach Noor Ali is therefore looking for his team to get their League Cup off to the best possible start this time round.

“Of course we want to get off to a good start by winning our first game,” he said.

“There are no easy games in the league or Cup, but anything can happen in football. Just look at the surprise results in the S.League earlier this week; Hougang beat Albirex and Balestier almost caused an upset against Home.

“We are definitely in a tough group, with two cup holders in Balestier and Brunei DPMM. They have little to play for anymore in the S.League this season, and I’m sure they will be going all out to try win this competition to salvage some pride.”

The former Singapore international has however shared that a number of his Prime League players will be given a chance to stake a claim in this competition, with the aim of blooding them in the S.League in the near future.

“We have a rather thin squad this season with injuries to players,” Noor Ali said.

“So some of my Prime League boys will start and this is the perfect opportunity to assess them to see if they are ready for football in the S.League. I’ve been with most of them for about 18 months now and I can see some potential in the youngsters that I have.

“This is also gives the likes of Faritz Hameed and Al-Qaasimy Rahman a breather as they have been playing many games in a short period of time.”

One player has been knocking on the doors of the senior squad is Ifwat Ismail and Noor Ali is keen to see what the forward has to offer to the team. The 20-year-old started against the Tigers in the League Cup a year ago, but made way for Shawal Anuar at half-time.

“I have a number of Prime League players in mind but Ifwat is one special player,” he added.

“He got a brace for the Under-20s in their 2-0 win over Chulalongkorn University during their Bangkok tour and is one for the future.”

While Balestier lie seventh in a nine-team Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League, Noor Ali has urged caution against the 2013 League Cup champions.

“They are a good team and are organised in their play,” he said.

“While they are a relatively young side, they have some experienced players in their team like midfielder Raihan (Rahman), goalkeeper Zaiful (NIzam) and their Myanmarese trio (Aung Kyaw Naing, Kyaw Zayar Win and Nanda Linn Kyaw Chit) are decent as well.”

Noor Ali’s opposite number, Marko Kraljevic is meanwhile targeting a good run in the competition to make up for a less-than-ideal league season thus far.

“Going into this group, all of the opponents are going to be difficult,” said the German-born Croat.

“We are going to need to work very hard but I believe can do it. We are just missing that little cutting edge but that’s football.

“We are going to play two games at home (Toa Payoh) and one at Jalan Besar Stadium, which could give us some advantage when he play on home soil.

“Also, Balestier have always done well in Cup competitions so we are going all out to reach the semis.”

Defender Fadli Kamis will miss out for Balestier due to a suspension carried over from last season while Geylang captain Isa Halim will not take to the field for the same reason.

Suspension: Fadli Kamis (Balestier Khalsa); Isa Halim (Geylang International)

Balestier Khalsa – LLLDL

03/07/17 Balestier Khalsa 1-2 Home United

22/06/17 Garena Young Lions 0-0 Balestier Khalsa

17/06/17 Tampines Rovers 3-1 Balestier Khalsa

01/06/17 Balestier Khalsa 3-4 Nagaworld FC (CAM) (RHB Singapore Cup)

26/05/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Geylang International

Geylang International – WLLDW

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

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

21/06/17   Geylang International 4-4 Global Cebu FC (PHI) (Global win 3-2 on penalties) (RHB Singapore Cup)

16/06/17 Geylang International 0-2 Warriors FC

26/05/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Geylang International