News • February 16, 2017

Eagles Eye Continental Spot


S.League side Geylang International are ready to soar in the upcoming campaign and have targeted qualification for the AFC Cup once again.

They ended the 2016 season strongly, but Geylang International were ultimately pipped to the AFC Cup play-off spot by Home United who finished ahead of them on goal difference.

The Eagles, who finished fifth, had to win by five goals or more against the Protectors on the final day of last season but could only manage a 4-1 victory and thus missed out on qualification for the continental competition in the process.

Ever since, they have retained the services of head coach Hasrin Jailani as well as 14 players for the upcoming S.League season.

Some of the notable names include skipper Isa Halim, goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari as well as Singapore internationals Faritz Hameed and Gabriel Quak and they will be complemented by the likes of Al-Qaasimy Rahman and Amy Recha.

While they did not make any high profile signings in the off-season, they have recruited Costa Rican forward Victor Coto and Argentinian playmaker Ricardo Sendra to beef up an attack that netted only 35 times last term.

The duo replaces Philippines international Mark Hartmann as well as midfielder Carlos Delgado, and will join Japanese defender Yuki Ichikawa who is in his fourth season with the club.

Highlighting the importance of continuity, Syazwan believes this can only be good for Geylang as they challenge for honours this season.

“With majority of the players being retained, it gives us a head start as we already know the style of each player in the team,” the 24-year-old noted.

“In order to build a strong team, I believe it cannot happen over one season. Therefore, by retaining most of the players, it will give us a better chance to compete for something this season.

“We had a great end to last season, only missing out on the AFC Cup spot on goal difference. It showed the team’s hunger, although a little late in the season, and we can definitely carry on that spirit into the start of 2017.”

On top of their failure to attain an AFC Cup play-off spot, they have lost key players Daniel Bennett and Sahil Suhaimi to Tampines Rovers but Isa has backed his team to bounce back even stronger.

“We may have lost some quality players to our rivals, but we have made it up by working on fitness and our understanding on the pitch,” Isa said.

“We will we have to continue to push hard this season, and making the cut for the AFC Cup is definitely still our main target.”

Echoing the sentiments of Isa, Syazwan is confident the Bedok-based side can outdo themselves this season.

“I’m confident everyone at Geylang knows what is expected of us,” the Geylang custodian said.

“Ultimately our goal is to win something for the club – be it the league title or qualifying for AFC competitions. I believe we have the quality and capability to achieve that.”

Looking forward to the 2017 season, Syazwan has urged his teammates to be ‘as consistent as possible’.

“Personally, I thought we hit top gear a little too late last season,” he reflected.

“We drew too many games in the first round which cost us valuable points that we needed so I believe we should try to start off well. The players are raring to go and I believe the team’s fighting spirit will bring us something this year.”

Geylang will travel to the Hougang Stadium to take on Hougang United in their season opener on 27 February. The match will kick off at 7.30pm.

S.League 2017 fixtures: