An Article by Isaac Yeung from NoorAliTV
From Moresche to Zuzul, Yuki Ichikawa to Rio Sakuma, Maguire to Tezuka, Geylang International’s squad surely has seen loads of changes.
Being looked down on at the start of the season due to heavy squad rebuilding – with star players like Zainol Gulam, Moresche and Barry Maguire leaving the club – head coach Noor Ali was tasked to bring the new players together and fight as one.
And so he did.
From Zaiful to Zuzul, the whole team looked united as one as they went on to challenge the current SPL title holders Lion City Sailors in their opening game at home.
A quick recovery pass from Zuzul sent Bezecourt jolting forward to score the opening goal for Geylang and soon to be the winning goal of the game as Geylang cruised past LCS to commence their campaign in the best way possible.
After the season opener, the Eagles faced Hougang but unlike their opening day heroics, Geylang suffered defeat after a stunning goal by Andre Mortiz in the dying moments of the game. That loss sent Geylang spiralling into an 11-winless game run. Confidence was running low for Noor Ali and co. as they got battered 8-2 by Albirex Niigata (S). Another loss to derby rivals Tampines in an “away” game only worsened the already dire situation for Geylang.
While most managers would have thrown in the towel, Noor Ali dug deep to flip the odds instead.
A draw to Young Lions at home demonstrated the sheer quality that the Eagles possessed. A quick fire counter against the Cubs resulted in a draw and indicated that Geylang were finally getting their act together again.
The Eagles then went on to put in a strong display against an in-form Tanjong Pagar side, emerging as 1-0 victors courtesy of a chip effort by Vincent Bezecourt. The Frenchman delightfully lobbed Jaguars custodian Zharfan Rohaizad and his goal boosted the morale of the squad.
Noor Ali’s tactics proved successful again as they would go unbeaten for the subsequent 5 matches, including a 5-0 thumping of the Jaguars. They also drew to Lion City Sailors 1-1 at home. The Eagles should have won the game but a controversial offside call for Hazzuwan Halim ruled that prospect out. Noor Ali would win coach of the month for his amazing performance with Geylang while firing them to 6th place.
Yet, the run did not last forever. Unfortunately, the Eagles were clattered by bitter rivals Tampines Rovers 4-1 in a match where they gradually lost grip of the game. A banger from Kyoga Nakamura only rubbed salt into our open wounds at the end of the game.
Nevertheless, the loss to our Eastern neighbours was but a blimp. The resurgent Eagles would find form again as they secured a 2-2 draw with Albirex Niigata (S). Noor Ali proved his tactical prowess yet again.
Back-to-back wins against Balestier Khalsa and Young Lions would see Sime Zuzul establish himself as a true cult hero as he would bang his 16th goal of the season and therefore cement himself in the history books. No other eagle has scored more than Zuzul in one league campaign. Against Balestier, our young debutant Ariffin Noor gave us something to cheer about as we look to the future. The Eagle took only 73 seconds to score after coming on in the second half. What a way to mark your debut and your first professional goal.
Then, it all came down to the blockbuster fixture against Lion City Sailors.
The Sailors desperately needed 3 points to secure their lead with Albirex hot on their heels. Only goal difference set them apart. Given the gulf in quality, many would have written the Eagles off.
But Noor Ali said no.
The Sailors took an early lead through Belgian ace Maxime Lestienne. That lead was short-lived with Bezecourt slotting it into the goal. Our beloved Frenchman would get his second via a deflection to give Geylang the lead. Zuzul would be subbed off before halftime due to an unfortunate injury and in came Hazzuwan Halim. It was Hazzuwan who went on to score the third for Geylang and sealed the win. We achieved something that only Albirex Niigata (S) and Urawa Red Diamonds can boast – The Sailors fell to the Eagles for the second time this season.
We may have suffered defeat to the Cheetahs in the following game but our eyes are fixed on the continental berth.
With 4 matches left to go for the Eagles, Noor Ali’s side has shown sheer quality to overturn results and silence critics – many of whom predicted that the Eagles would finish last and wouldn’t reach the top half of the table.
Mohd Noor Ali has defied the odds and his journey with the Eagles this season has been fantastic.
Can Geylang defy the odds to reach Asia or will there be another twist in the season?
Cheering on the Eagles from Hong Kong,
P.S. We wish Noor Ali a speedy recovery and hope he can lead our Eagles to glory.
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