S.League: Home United wary of Geylang despite being favourites to clinch AFC Cup spot

Geylang have an outside chance of edging Home and qualifying for the 2017 AFC Cup.

Juma'at Jantan
Home United skipper Juma'at (R) is wary of Geylang's ability to stun them Reuters

Home United camp is optimistic about fending off a challenge from Geylang International on Tuesday for a spot in the 2017 AFC Cup.

Since only local teams in the league can make it to the AFC Cup, the top two-ranked Singapore units in the league have the opportunity to represent the country in the annual tournament.

While S.League giants Tampines Rovers have already booked a place after being the highest-placed local team in the league, Home, who are placed fourth, are favourites to become the second team from the country to participate in next season's AFC Cup.

However, Geylang International, who are placed fourth behind the Protectors with a three-point deficit, need to beat Home at least 5-0 in their last league game on Tuesday to overtake their rivals and clinch the spot.

Both Home and Geylang have secured wins in their previous outings to make Tuesday's encounter the only impactful feature in the league's final few matches. While the former defeated champions Albirex Niigata 3-1, the latter scrapped to a 1-0 win at Hougang on Thursday.

Home skipper Juma'at Jantan is wary of a strong show from their opponents at the Bedok Stadium. Notably, Geylang defeated the Protectors 2-1 in June after their 2-2 draw in April. The 32-year-old, who has had the experience of playing in the AFC Cup is motivated to lead his team into their eighth tournament appearance.

"Everything - the teams, opponents, pressure - is different in the AFC Cup, and everything just feels like a level up," Juma'at was quoted as saying by The New Paper.

"We are in the driver's seat right now [to seal the spot]. But Geylang have nothing to lose, they will give their all and they will come at us. If we lack concentration, they will kill us."

Coach Aidil Sharin wants his players to maintain intensity and go for the kill instead of settling for a draw, which will also be enough for them. He believes that Thursday's win against Albirex has given his men the right mindset to approach one of the crucial ties of their ongoing season on Tuesday.

"I want them to play the same way they did in the last game. I don't want them to think it's acceptable for us to waste time during the game and play for a draw," Aidil said.

"We're in form, why change? Spirit is high, the morale of the group is good, and I can see they are working hard and they want it."