Match Preview: Tampines Rovers vs Geylang International
By Deepanraj Ganesan on 15 March 2014
Two rivals will take to the field at the Clementi Stadium on Sunday as Geylang International and Tampines Rovers contest the first Eastern Derby of the year.
Both teams head into the derby looking to put right, what has been an unconvincing campaign. The hosts, Tampines Rovers started their domestic season with two victories, with the second victory being a fortunate 3-2 win over Courts Young Lions. Their involvement in the AFC Cup has been less desirable succumbing to two big defeats, a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Hong Kong league club Kitchee FC before a 3-1 loss at Myanmar to Nay Pyi Taw FC.
Meanwhile, Geylang International have also started the season in bad form, with losses to Warriors before a 4-1 loss to Home United.
The EAGLES will be relying on the pace and trickery of winger Hafiz Nor to break down the Stags’ defence.
The injuries have not helped the Eagles this season and once again, they are set to be without key personnel for this big clash. Midfielder Fabian Kwok suffered a freak injury and is set to miss out, while Japanese defenders Kento Fukuda and Yuki Ichikawa are also on the treatment table. Khairulnizam Jumahat is also recovering from a minor injury and will not be risked in the derby. Speaking ahead of the match, head coach Vedhamuthu Kanan rued the absence of key defenders. He said: “It’s a big blow to have so many defensive players and it is hard to motivate the squad when key players are injured.
“However, despite the injuries, the rest of the players are raring to go and eager to put things right, but Tampines Rovers is a tough team to play against at home, especially after their two AFC Cup losses.”
Asked on Tampines’ dangermen, Kanan singled out the Stags’ forwards Miljan Mrdaković and veteran Aleksandar Đurić. He also mentioned Shaiful Esah for his set-piece delivery, saying, “We have to avoid conceding free kicks around the penalty box, because they can hurt us at set-pieces.”
Looking to rally his troops ahead of the big match, Kanan said: “The last match (4-1 loss to Home United) was a one-off result, I assure you that we will make things difficult for Tampines. We want a positive result at Clementi.”
Kanan’s words set the tone for this match as Geylang International look to put one over their eastern rivals.