Buoyant Eagles aim to make up ground

Geylang International will return to Our Tampines Hub in buoyant mood after more than holding their own in their last Singapore Premier League match against moneybags Lion City Sailors.

While they lost 2-1 to the title contenders, a depleted Eagles side put up a strong showing, especially in attack, where the likes of Matheus Moresche and Amy Recha were unlucky not to score more for at least a draw.

On Sunday, Geylang welcome Hougang United, who have made a surprisingly strong start to the season to keep pace with the early leaders.

The last time these two teams met in March, Amy capitalised on a goalkeeping error to grab an early opener. But this was replied by four Hougang goals, which started a six-match winless run.

However, things have looked up for Geylang of late, as Dutch midfielder Barry Maguire’s return from a hamstring injury coincided with seven-goal Brazilian forward Moresche’s fine scoring form.

A morale-boosting 4-2 win over Young Lions was sandwiched by narrow defeats by Tampines Rovers (3-2) and the Sailors, and Geylang coach Noor Ali has seen enough to feel encouraged by the improved performances.

A win against Hougang could see Geylang overtake Balestier into fifth place and narrow the gap on the fourth-placed Cheetahs to seven points.

He said: “Of course, results are important, but it’s good to see some positives in the defeats against very strong Tampines and Sailors teams. The overall fighting spirit is great, and we are creating many more scoring opportunities.

“I’m still not happy with how we concede easy goals at times, because that puts extra pressure on us to score more goals at the other end. But we will continue to work hard on this aspect to fix it.”

Noor Ali will continue to keep his opponents guessing in terms of his starting line-up, having already used four goalkeepers in nine games this season.

While there remain doubts over the fitness of left-back Harith Kanadi and Dutch striker Sylvano Comvalius, centre-back Faizal Roslan is available for selection.

Sunday’s game, as well as all Singapore Premier League matches from Saturday, will be played behind closed doors as part of the nation stepping up preventive measures in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen an increase of community cases in recent weeks.

“Hougang have a deeper squad, but they also have their fair share of injuries and I guess the unpredictability can be interesting and exciting for fans,” said Noor Ali.

“It is unfortunate that two of the best sets of fans cannot be in the stands to cheer us on, but we hope they will continue to support us over the SPL Facebook and YouTube pages.”