Eagles Rejuvenated & Ready To Rumble In TNP League Cup
By Andrew Ang on 25 June 2017
Geylang International FC have been handed a tough draw for the group stages of ‘The New Paper League Cup 2017’, alongside three-time TNP League Cup champions, Brunei DPMM FC, a gutsy Balestier Khalsa FC side, and our Eastern Derby rivals, Tampines Rovers FC in Group B.
Meanwhile, Group A is being touted as the ‘Group of Death’ as it is indeed an arduous task to qualify, with star-studded Home United FC, back-to-back champions Albirex Niigata (S) FC, giant-killers Hougang United FC and nine-time S.League champions Warriors FC, all in the mix.
The Garena Young Lions alongside a handful of young starlets from other S.League clubs, will not take part in this tournament, as they are scheduled to take part in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship qualifiers during the duration of the competition, as well as to better prepare for the 29th SEA Games, happening in August 2017.
‘The New Paper League Cup 2017 Draw’, was conducted in the afternoon of 21st June 2017 at the VIP Lounge of Jalan Besar Stadium, in the midst of all players, coaches, staff and Football Association of Singapore (FAS) personnel.
The 2017 edition of TNP League Cup will have eight S.League clubs competing for the trophy. With the teams being divided into two groups of four, only the top two teams of each group will progress to the ‘Semi-Finals’, where they will compete for a spot in the ‘Grand Final’, to be played on 21 July. The eventual Cup champions and 1st runners-up of the tournament will be awarded S$20,000 and S$10,000 respectively.
This year will be slightly different as compared to last year because, there will be no ‘Plate’ competition, for the bottom two teams from each group. Hence, the competition will be steep and expect a blockbuster affair in each and every game, which commences of 07 July.
Geylang ended a seven-year silverware drought last year, as the Eagles clinched the ‘Plate’ trophy in 2016, after edging out Hougang United with a 2-1 score line.
Despite a defeat against Global Cebu FC in the RHB Singapore Cup, Geylang’s recent spirited display has garnered much attention for their rejuvenated playing style. With Caretaker Coach, Noor Ali, leading the ‘greenwhitearmy’, the Bedok-based club are definitely aiming to go one further and now would set their eyes on the main prize – TNP League Cup Trophy.
With the RHB Singapore Cup upset and the S.League heading into a possible three-horse race for the title, with Geylang languishing in mid-table, the League Cup is the only possible silverware up for grabs in this season.
Knowing the determination and grit of Geylang, the Eagles would be going all guns blazing to attain the majestic TNP League Cup trophy.
Noor Ali believes that there is never an easy group or pathway in cup competitions as all teams will fight equally hard to reach the summit and the ultimate bonus – the attractive cash prize. The ex-Singapore international, also gave a hint that a few Prime League players will get a shot in the big stage and believes that only experience in these game will allow the young starlets to flourish.
“I always believed in young talent, and they will only get better with playing time under their belt. Without opportunities, one is unable to showcase the maximum potential. TNP League Cup will give me a golden chance to ease a few players into the first team or possibly the starting eleven.”
“A cup competition is definitely important to us (GIFC) and having won the Plate (trophy) last year, our (Geylang) target has always been, going as far as we can. This time, we hope to better our last year’s achievement and qualify for the semi-finals first, before thinking about the trophy. It would be tough against the Wasps, Stags and Tigers, but we Eagles are ready to ruffle our feathers and take it game by game.” added the former Geylang United skipper.