With both sides coming off demoralising draws against winless opponents in their respective last match before the international break, Geylang International and Albirex Niigata will be looking for a quick revival on Resurrection Sunday when they meet at Jurong East Stadium.
The Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw against Young Lions, while the White Swans could not find a way past Balestier Khalsa in a goalless stalemate, as both sides came out of the last game week feeling like they dropped two points.
And this upcoming showdown should be an intriguing affair as Geylang have taken the lead in all of their first three matches, while Albirex have conceded just once over the same period.
Although Albirex did the double over Geylang en route to winning last season’s championship, Eagles coach Noor Ali was also one of few coaches who engineered a double over the four-time Singapore Premier League champions. He accomplished the feat with a pair of 1-0 wins in 2019 that saw captain marvel Yuki Ichikawa seal victory with his thumping header in their opening encounter while Zikos Chua scored a dramatic late winner in the 95th minute in the home fixture then.
And so, a repeat is not as far-fetched as it seems.
However, Geylang may still have to make do without influential Dutch midfielder Barry Maguire, who is hamstrung, so under-23 duo Elijah Lim and Azri Suhaili could have an extended run in the starting XI after impressing against Young Lions with their work rate and endeavour.
Foreign strikers Sylvano Comvalius and Matheus Moresche have already opened their accounts and will be hungry for more goals, with the likes of vice-captain Darren Teh and forward Christopher van Huizen buoyed by national team call-ups and ready to provide the ammunition from wide positions.
Noor Ali said: “We all know what Albirex are capable of – they are fit and organised. While they did not really play positive football when they beat us 1-0 last year, they got the job done, so they have that side to them too.
“But we must be confident with our abilities too. Looking at the stats of their last game, I would say Balestier were unlucky not to win because they had seven shots on target and Albirex had just one.
“If we think we don’t stand a chance, then we might as well not play. And I believe the players I have can play well and get a positive result.”