Thursday, June 21, 2012

Opponent Watch: Geylang United

Tonight's clash with Geylang United has been unceremoniously billed as the "bottom of the table clash". Starting off the season brightly, the Rams have seen themselves slip from 3rd place in March to their present 12th position and only Geylang have it much worse than us.

However, the Eagles are level on points with us and they have a game in hand. This  means that Woodlands has to leave Bedok Stadium with nothing less than a victory. If we were to fall at the Eagles' den, that would condemn us to our 6th consecutive loss, and perpetuate our current barren run of 11 matches without a win. To put it simply, this is a fixture that the Rams cannot afford to lose.

When these sides met on 19th February, strikes from Hussein Akil, Goh Swee Swee and Moon Soon-Ho gave the Rams a 3 -1 victory at Woodlands Stadium. Goh's magnificent strike would no doubt still be playing in the minds of Rams' fans, and the speedy winger will be looking to add to his tally of 2 goals tonight.

Moon and Akil, one of the best partnerships in Woodlands' recent history so far.
Photo Credit:  Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

Woodlands' best bet of scoring would rest squarely on the shoulders of "Super Moon" Moon Soon-Ho. The prolific striker has 7 goals to his name this season, including one against Kanbawza FC in the RHB Singapore Cup, and he would definitely be hungry for more. The former Super Reds star has scored 15 times for the Rams since joining Woodlands during last season's mid-season transfer window, and after appearing 31 times in our yellow kit, the Korean hitman averages a goal every two games, a wonderful record for a team that's second from bottom. Moon has scored in the last two matches against Kanbawza and Courts Young Lions (what a beauty that was!) and he could very well hit three on the trot against a porous Geylang defence that has leaked in 29 goals this season.

Much of Woodlands' attack could be attributed to the telepathic understanding between Moon and his strike partner, Hussein Akil. The Aussie-Lebanese may not be racking up the numbers in terms of goals (he has 2 so far) but his spirited running and assists have ensured that Moon has a steady string of ammo up upfront.

The return of Woodlands protégé Neil Vanu would also boost our chances in attack and the promising young striker will be looking to prove himself after being left mostly on the bench during his time with the Young Lions. Couple that with the hardworking pair of Goh Swee Swee and former Geylang man Guntur Djafril plying the wings and we look all set to go for this one.

Josef Kaplán, top scorer for the Eagles with 4 goals.
Photo Credit:  Geylang United Football Club

However, all is not lost for the Eagles. Woodlands has failed to win in the last 5 matches while Geylang boasts a better record of losing 2, drawing 2 and winning 1. In fact, they fought to a hard earned draw against SAFFC, at Choa Chu Kang Stadium, no less, in their last round and actually came from 2 - 0 down after 25 minutes to equalise on 78 minutes and send the Ultra Eagles into rapture. Woodlands, on the other hand, have been pretty unlucky during the last two matches. The Rams really should have won the game against a 10 men Tanjong Pagar, while the puzzling decisions from referee Abdul Malik left much to be desired. Both Daniel Hammond and Aloysius Yap were left reeling as their respective efforts against the Jaguars and Young Lions rebounded off the goalpost at Woodlands Stadium.

Geylang United also recently announced the signing of Serbian forward Stefan Milojevic (source) and the former Birmingham youngster will be looking to form an effective partnership with Geylang star Michael King upfront. King impressed with his mazy dribbles at Woodlands in February, and our defence will need to pay extra attention to the damage these two can cause up front. Geylang's top scorer, Josef Kapláň (4 goals), must also be tightly marked for this one.

We want to see this tonight!
Photo Credit: Andrew Him (The Black Sheep)

The last time these two sides met here in Bedok, Geylang came away with a 1 - 0 victory courtesy of a solitary Jung-Hee Bong goal which settled the game in the 59th minute. If we were to dig further into the history books, the record seems even more dismal for Woodlands as the Eagles recorded victories in Bedok Stadium in 2010 (1-0) and even bigger victories in 2009 (4-0) and 2008 (4-1). The two sides drew here in 2007 in a match that ended one all and the last time the Rams tasted victory in Bedok was on 19 April 2006, where we ran out 3-1 winners. Laakkad Abdelhadi scored a brace in that one while Agu Casmir topped the icing on the cake with a goal in between Laakkad's strikes.

Well, for our boys, I say let's rewrite the history books tonight by notching our first win at Bedok since 2006. The Eagles are not playing well this year and this is out chance. Go for it!

Out of 25 matches played head to head, the Rams have won 13 while the Eagles fare slightly worse at 12 wins. Expect plenty of goals at the Bedok Stadium as these two sides will be fighting a real battle to see whether the Eagles stay rooted to the bottom, or climb above the Rams.

Be there at Bedok Stadium to soak up the action tonight!

And to our boys, Never Surrender!

Match Information
Date: Friday, 21th June, 2012 (7.45pm kick-off)
Venue: Bedok Stadium

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