News • January 27, 2016

Shawal Wants To Build On Strong Debut Season


Written by: Shawn Lim

Making the step up from Geylang International’s Prime League squad into the first-team squad for Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2015, Shawal Anuar was expecting to warm the bench for a majority of the season.

The midfielder was resigned to his fate as he thought then coach Jorg Steinebrunner would pick the likes of Jozef Kaplan, Tatusro Inui and Hafiz Nor ahead of him because of their experience and skills.

So one could imagine Shawal’s surprise when Steinebrunner not only gave him some playing time off the bench, but handed him a starting spot for some matches as well.

The confidence placed in Shawal’s abilities, coupled with playing alongside Kaplan, Inui and Hafiz in an attacking triangle, helped the lanky 1.68m tall player settled down into the squad and he went on to score four goals in 12 appearances.

Reflecting on last season, the 24-year-old told that he was proud of his performances because he gave his all.

“I am happy because it was my debut season and I gave it my all because the coach told me to do best. I think I didn’t do very badly, so I’m proud of myself,” explained Shawal.

“I wasn’t expecting to play as many games as I did, let alone to score goals in my first full season in the S.League.

“I have learned to have more composure when I have the ball from my more experienced teammates and how important it is to have a right mindset when I’m on the field.

“Playing with Kaplan, Inui and Hafiz was an eye-opening experience because they taught me to play simple football and how to play in a triangle, which I is why I enjoy playing that style of football now.”

Even though Shawal performed when called upon, the Eagles struggled for consistency throughout the season and ultimately finished eighth in the league table.

While the run of the bad results and poor form was disappointing, Shawal feels that it has taught him an important lesson about teamwork.

“The most important lesson we learnt from last year is to work as team, regardless of the results on the field or where we sit in the table,” said Shawal.

“We tried our best to win games, but sometimes the luck was not on our side”

The Eagles have undergone an overhaul ahead of the 2016 season, with Kaplan, Inui and Hafiz leaving the club and Steinebrunner making way for former player Hasrin Jailani.

In the place of the trio, Geylang have signed former LionsXII players Gabriel Quak, Sahil Suhaimi, Faritz Hameed and Al-Qassimy Rahman, on top of experienced players like Daniel Bennett, Yuki Ichikawa and Shariff Samat.

Shawal admits that he will miss playing alongside his attacking partners, but is eager to form a new partnership with his new teammates.

“It’s going to be a fun time playing alongside these guys because we have bonded quite well,” said Shawal.

“There are also a lot of youngsters, combined with experienced players, so it is a good mix. I feel we can learn a lot of things together.”

Despite his better-than-expected debut last season, Shawal is ready to work hard and build on his impressive performances last year as he sets his eyes on a bigger target.

“I want to improve on my performances last year, because I believe that hard work pays off if you really love what you are doing,” he explained.

“So there’s a lot more to come from me this year. Hopefully, I impress enough to get the call-up to the national team for the (AFF) Suzuki Cup at the end of the year.”