Match Preview: Albirex Niigata (S) vs Geylang International FC
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 7 May 2014
Kento Fukuda and Joaquin Lopez will also be on hand to provide the defensive steel that has become a fixture in the Eagles’ side since the return of the former from injury.
After three consecutive draws, Geylang International will be travelling to the Jurong East Stadium looking to return to winning ways. A string of 1-1 draws against the likes of Balestier Khalsa, Woodlands Wellington and Tanjong Pagar United has resulted in a loss of six points despite the fact that Jorg Steinebrunner’s side has extended their unbeaten run to seven games.
The Eagles will be facing a stern test, in the form of Albirex Niigata (S). The Japanese side have recovered from a recent 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Warriors FC to collect four points from two title favourites, Home United and Tampines Rovers, with a 4-2 win and a 1-1 draw respectively.
As Albirex Niigata (S) sit just outside the top four, many predict the White Swans will snap the Eagles’ unbeaten run. Speaking to EaglesTV, ahead of the tie, was head coach Jorg Steinebrunner. He felt his team would go into the tie brimming with confidence. He said: “There has not been much wrong with our performances, the only thing we didn’t do was to put the ball into the net. But the chances are there, and we have the believe that we can match the top sides.”
All eyes will be on both teams’ front men as both forwards have done well to pit themselves firmly in the running for the top scorer’s award. Geylang International’s Leonel Felice has netted six times, while Albirex’s Kazuki Sakamoto has done one better, scoring seven times. With two strikers on red hot form, the supporters at the Jurong East Stadium could be set to witness a goal-fest. A notion supported by the Eagles’ head coach. He said: “Both teams like to keep the ball on the deck and with the players on the pitch, this would be a good game for the supporters at the stadium as well as for the S.League.”
The Eagles have a fully fit squad to choose from, excluding the absence of K. Sathiaraj , who is inching towards full fitness. Hafiz Nor is expected to return to the starting 11 after being benched in favour of Aliff Shafaein in the last match against Tanjong Pagar United. Kento Fukuda and Joaquin Lopez will also be on hand to provide the defensive steel that has become a fixture in the Eagles’ side since the return of the former from injury.
Two teams enjoying a decent run of form, coupled with the similar philosophy of keeping the ball on the deck and creating chances aplenty, Geylang International and Albirex Niigata will be sure to give the supporters in the stands a night to remember, at the Jurong East Stadium on Thursday.