Albirex wary of Geylang in clash of top sides

Albirex Niigata's former Geylang midfielder Tatsuro Inui will be hoping his insider knowledge will benefit his current team in today's match. Albirex Niigata players going through their drills at the Jurong East Stadium ahead of their S-League match
Albirex Niigata players going through their drills at the Jurong East Stadium ahead of their S-League match against a Geylang side refreshed by an influx of new signings.ST PHOTO: TAMARA CRAIU
Albirex Niigata's former Geylang midfielder Tatsuro Inui will be hoping his insider knowledge will benefit his current team in today's match. Albirex Niigata players going through their drills at the Jurong East Stadium ahead of their S-League match
Albirex Niigata's former Geylang midfielder Tatsuro Inui will be hoping his insider knowledge will benefit his current team in today's match.THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

A familiar face will greet Geylang International when they meet S-League table-toppers Albirex Niigata at the Bedok Stadium today.

Playmaker Tatsuro Inui featured for the Eagles last season and he is relishing the prospect of reuniting with some of his former team-mates on the pitch.

"Yuki (Ichikawa), Nor Azli (Yusoff) and Shawal (Anuar) are dangerous players and I'm looking forward to playing against them," said the 26-year-old, who scored eight goals in 24 appearances for Geylang last season.

Although Inui can boast some knowledge of second-placed Geylang's inner workings, that edge is somewhat blunted by the fact that he will be facing a rather different set of Eagles today.

In the off season, Geylang signed five former LionsXII players and several more from other clubs. The impact of the personnel changes on the Geylang squad - who were eighth among 10 teams last year - was not lost on Inui.

He said: "They play aggressive football and are always trying to score goals. They have acquired good players from the LionsXII so I was already expecting good results from them this season."

Other than the LionsXII players, Albirex coach Naoki Naruo has singled out the foreign attacking duo of Croatian Branko Cubrilo and Argentinian Carlos Delgado as players who could threaten his team's unbeaten record.

"Branko is a big player who is like the focal point of Geylang's offence while Delgado's passing is good and he can make a difference to the team's attack," he said.

Veteran Albirex goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa is aware of the danger today's opponents pose. He had a word of caution for his team-mates.

He said: "Last year, we won every game against them but their players are different this year so we don't want to be overconfident.

"And judging by their draws with (defending champions) Brunei (DPMM) and (pre-season favourites) Tampines (Rovers), they are doing very well against the stronger teams."

Pan Zaixiang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2016, with the headline 'Albirex wary of Geylang in clash of top sides'. Print Edition | Subscribe