Geylang International FC

Season Preview: Wholesale changes for 2014 campaign

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Geylang International will look to put behind a disappointing 2013 campaign as they gear ahead for the 2014 S-League season.

Coach Kanan Vedhamuthu has ringed the changes at the Bedok Stadium, replacing a youthful side with experience. Amongst the 11 new additions to the squad, are Japanese defenders Yuki Ichikawa and Kento Fukuda and, locals Mustaqim Manzur, Aliff Shafaein, Hafiz Nor, Hamqaamal Shah and K. Sathiaraj.

But the pick of the new local signings, is former Singapore international Ridhuan Muhammad. Back at home after several years of terrorising fullbacks in Indonesia; the lanky winger has been given the captain’s armband this season. Coach Kanan feels his new captain can be a boost to the side, on and off the pitch.

He said, “So far he has been excellent as a captain and he adds a lot of quality to the team and not forgetting that he is a real role model for our players.”

The Eagles have also bolstered their side with a South American revolution. After a scouting trip to Argentina, Coach Kanan added three Argentinean players in striker Leonel Felice, defensive midfielder Joaquin Lopez and midfielder Franco Chivilo as well as bringing in assistant coach Nazareno Velez.

As the only recognized forward in the Eagles’ set up this season, much will be expected from Leonel Felice. A sentiment which coach Kanan echoed when asked about his target for the forward this season. “I am expecting a lot from Leonel. If Jozef Kaplan (last season’s foreign forward and team captain) could score 14 goals from such a mediocre squad last season then I expect at least 14 from Leonel this season.”

The target this year is a top four finish and coach Kanan did not mince his words when speaking about his team’s strengths this season. As he cited the names of Aliff Shafaein, Hafiz Nor, Mustaqim Manzur, Hamqaamal Shah, and Ridhuan Muhammad, he said: “Compared to the other teams in the league, we have the best wingers in the league.”

A tough start beckons for their 2014 campaign, with Geylang having to play away games against Warriors, Home United and Tampines Rovers in their first three games. Targeting seven out of the possible 9 points in the opening matches, an optimistic Coach Kanan’s words gave a preview of the tough prospects that lies ahead, saying: “Three extremely tough games to start the season, but if we can get out jail, we are going to have a good season this year.”

If the players stay injury free, 2014 could be the year the Eagles soar to the summit again.

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