Eagles And Stags Keen To Claim Bragging Rights
Geylang International vs Tampines Rovers
(Saturday, 8 April, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
Written by: Shawn Lim
The first ‘Eastern Derby’ of the 2017 Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League season will take place on Saturday night when Geylang International take on Tampines Rovers at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Both teams will come into the game on the back of less-than-ideal results, with the Eagles having only one win to account for after three league games while the Stags have only one win in all competitions in their past five matches.
Following losses to Warriors FC (1-0) and Hanoi FC (2-1) in the S.League and AFC Cup respectively, Tampines playmaker Shahdan Sulaiman has urged his teammates to start well and keep their concentration for the entire game from now on.
“We didn’t start well against Warriors and we were punished. It is always hard to be chasing the game when that happens,” asserted Shahdan.
“As for Hanoi, I think lapses in our concentration resulted in the goals so we need to concentrate throughout the entire 90 minutes.”
Games between both the Eagles and Stags have been known for their fair share of controversies and heated moments, but Shahdan and his opposite counterpart Safirul Sulaiman are keen to stress that it is paramount for them to keep their emotions in check.
“I think the red cards and heated moments are what that makes this rivalry fascinating,” Shahdan said.
“As long as we are not drawn into anything silly, we should be alright. Emotions are part n parcel of the game and we just need to control it.”
Echoing Shahdan’s sentiments, Safirul added: “Each individual has to compose themselves and not get into unnecessary fouls or retaliation.
“We have to remind each other to focus on the three points rather than get the team into trouble by getting red cards or injuries.
“Therefore, we have to keep the discipline in the team as we have the season to look forward to be free from injuries and suspensions.”
While he is keen to see his teammates stay calm during the game, Safirul is relishing the chance to put one over the Stags.
“It's an advantage to us because they played more games than us this month,” said the versatile midfielder, who can also play in defence.
“Physically, they would be more lethargic than us and therefore we have to capitalise on that. However, we cannot be complacent and we will try to get the points we want.”
Tampines will miss Madhu Mohana after the captain limped off during the loss against Hanoi, while goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud is a doubt after being stretchered off in the same game.
The good news for the five-time S.League winners is that Shahdan’s return from injury is going well and the midfielder has made two consecutive starts in the past week.
“I won’t say I am back to my 100 percent, but I am slowly feeling good and better after the second game. Hopefully, I will be less rusty after one or two more matches,” Shahdan said.
Suspension: Jamil Ali (Tampines Rovers)
Geylang International - WWLWD
10/03/17 Warriors FC 1-1 Geylang International
04/03/17 Geylang International 2-0 Balestier Khalsa
27/02/17 Hougang United 2-0 Geylang International
25/10/16 Geylang International 4-1 Home United
20/10/16 Hougang United 0-1 Geylang International
Tampines Rovers - LWLLL
04/04/17 Tampines Rovers 1-2 Hanoi FC (AFC Cup)
01/04/17 Tampines Rovers 0-1 Warriors FC
15/03/17 Hanoi FC 4-0 Tampines Rovers (AFC Cup)
11/03/17 Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Tampines Rovers
07/03/17 Ceres-Negros FC 5-0 Tampines Rovers (AFC Cup)
Head to Head (S.League)
04/08/16 Tampines Rovers 2-1 Geylang International
21/04/16 Geylang International 0-1 Tampines Rovers
15/02/16 Tampines Rovers 3-3 Geylang International
20/10/15 Geylang International 1-4 Tampines Rovers
29/07/15 Tampines Rovers 2-0 Geylang International