Rapid response required from Eagles

Singapore, March 19: Geylang International coach Noor Ali has demanded an instant response to the 4-1 defeat by Hougang United midweek.

That opportunity will come on Saturday at Our Tampines Hub against the visiting Young Lions side that have beaten the Eagles just once – in a 2-1 win in 2019 – in their last 16 encounters, out of which Geylang won 12 and drew three.

One positive Noor Ali can look at is how his side have burst out of the blocks in their first two games – they opened the scoring in the 19th minute in the 2-1 win over Tanjong Pagar and in the fourth minute against Hougang.

However, on both occasions, they allowed the opponents to hit back within six minutes.

Noor Ali said: “I’m happy we are scoring goals, but we cannot be throwing away leads like this. In the modern game, defenders cannot just defend and attackers just attack.

“We need to attack and defend as a team, which I don’t think we did enough of, especially against Hougang.

“The Young Lions have shown they are capable of putting up a fight and we won’t take them lightly. But I expect our players to show me what they are made of and come up with a response in this next game before we enter the international break.”

The Young Lions – essentially the national Under-22s – kicked off their campaign in a topsy-turvy 3-3 draw against Balestier Khalsa that saw them take the lead, go 3-1 down, before fighting back for a point.

However, they were then outclassed 3-0 by defending champions Albirex Niigata in their next game.

Geylang goalkeeper Zainol Gulam has recovered from a concussion and will challenge Hairul Syirhan for a place in the starting XI, and either of them will have to look out for teenage terrors Ilhan Fandi and Khairin Nadim, who have already opened their scoring accounts.