Geylang target top-four finish
Geylang coach Noor Ali eyes top-four finish
|GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL||TAMPINES ROVERS|
Geylang International are entering the final stretch of the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League season full of hope.
With five league games remaining, coach Noor Ali has given his fifth-placed team a target of finishing in the top four.
Given how they have been punching above their weight this season, who's to say they won't continue to defy the odds?
A change in coach in mid-season, during which Noor Ali took over the reins from Hasrin Jailani, did not knock the Eagles off their stride.
And, despite Noor Ali's determination to give his raw talents a chance, Geylang's results haven't suffered.
The 42-year-old former Singapore international sounded optimistic ahead of his side's clash with Tampines Rovers at Our Tampines Hub tomorrow.
Said Noor Ali, whose side trail fourth-placed Warriors FC only on goal difference: "We cannot compete with clubs like Home United, Tampines Rovers and Albirex Niigata considering our resources.
"These teams have great depth and quality in their squads.
"But, finishing among the top four will be a big achievement for the club considering what has happened to the club lately.
"In every game I approach, I am there to take the three points.
"As a player and now as a coach, I still carry that winning mentality wherever I go.
"This is the S.League and we have a lot to play for."
Noor Ali will be missing Anders Aplin, Shahfiq Ghani, Stanely Ng, Farish Khan and Nur Amin Malik through injuries, and the suspended Victor Coto for tomorrow's match.
But he is confident his young Prime League players such as Ifwat Ismail, Noor Ariff and Asshukrie Wahid can fill the voids effectively.
He said: "The younger players who have followed me, like Ifwat, know my style.
"You may have played well in the last game. But the last game is done and dusted.
"I select players based on their ability and performance in training. You have to replicate in the game what you can do in training.
"I believe that younger players need game time and you need to know when to play them.
"This is what youth development is all about.
"I do not believe that there is no talent in our age-group squads."
According to Noor Ali, Geylang had requested for tomorrow's "home game" to be played in Tampines because it is an Eastern Derby.
Meanwhile, Tampines Rovers head coach Juergen Raab has his eyes set on a second-placed finish.
Nine of his players were called up to the Singapore squad recently for the Lions' Asian Cup qualifier against Turkmenistan, and that means the German has only two days to prepare for tomorrow's game.
Said Raab, whose team have five games left to play this season: "It is not easy when you have nine first-team players away on national team duty for two-and-a-half weeks.
"After our defeat by Albirex in the league, it was clear that second place is now our objective.
"If we can achieve the goal, it will be a great success for the team after losing so many players from last season.
"The players are motivated to finish second and it will be a reward for their hard work.
"Beating Geylang is the first step. We want the win against them because this is the opener to the final stretch.
"We need to shake off the rust and get ready for what is to come."
- Warriors FC v Garena Young Lions (7.30pm, Choa Chu Kang Stadium)
- Brunei DPMM FC v Balestier Khalsa FC (8.15pm, Bandar Seri Begawan)