It was a night to forget for the Lion City Sailors the last time out in the Singapore Premier League (SPL), but Risto Vidaković’s charges have no time to dwell on the defeat to Albirex Niigata (S), as they return to the Bishan Stadium to host Geylang International on Wednesday (15 March) night. 

Geylang and the Sailors both suffered their first defeats of the campaign in Matchweek 3 of the SPL and will be hoping to bounce back as they return to action this week. 

And Sailors defender Lionel Tan is backing his side to show the mental resilience and belief to immediately recover from the setback against Albirex. 

“It was a tough defeat to swallow and things just went wrong that night, but one defeat certainly doesn’t define us. The league season is long – it’s like a marathon – and losing one game doesn’t mean it’s fatal for us,” said the 25-year-old, who has played every minute of the Sailors’ three league games so far. 

 “Day in and day out, we’re still progressing well as a team in the game model that Coach Risto has laid down for us so we won’t be too disheartened. There are strong characters in this team and we’ve also identified where we can do better, so I’m confident we’ll be able to show what we’re made of against Geylang.”

Lionel acknowledged it is a huge blow to have leading striker Kodai Tanaka ruled out for the foreseeable future after sustaining a serious knee injury, but he has backed his teammates to step up. 

“Firstly, we’re all so sad for Kodai because he has been such a great presence in and around the dressing room – we hope he recovers well and, fingers crossed, we can see him playing in the Sailors’ jersey again soon. 

“But I’m not too worried because we have excellent players in the attacking third like Maxime (Lestienne) and Diego (Lopes). Shawal (Anuar) and Rasaq (Abdul Rasaq Akeem) are also great options upfront so we definitely still have goals in the team.”

Midfielder Rusyaidi Salime is also champing at the bit to impress and deliver for the Sailors’ cause after making his debut when he came on as 73rd-minute substitute against the White Swans. 

“It was a bittersweet moment for me – it was my first time wearing the Sailors jersey in an official game and I was so excited to get stuck in for the team, but at the same time it was sad that we didn’t get the result that we wanted. 

“I just can’t wait to get out there and do more for the team. I’ve been working very hard to show my worth during training and hopefully that translates to more minutes on the pitch,” said the 24-year-old. 

Rusyaidi firmly believes that when the Sailors next step out onto the Bishan Stadium pitch, it will be with a strength and resolve deserving of the Sailors’ white and blue. 

“It was simply awesome to look up and see the away stands being so packed at Jurong East last week. We would like to say sorry to our fans that we lost by a big margin in that game and we will like to ensure that this is not the way Lion City Sailors are,” he said.

“We’ll get back to playing the football that you fans want to see from us and that starts against Geylang.”