After a disappointing 2015 S.League campaign, Geylang International have undergone a revamp with massive changes to their playing squad and management. Is this the Eagles' much-needed revolution?
DPMM 2016 S.LEAGUE SQUAD
- Hairul Syirhan
- Syazwan Buhari
- Russell Santa Maria
- Yuki Ichikawa
- Dhukhilan s/o Jeevamani
- Faritz Hameed
- Al Qaasimy Rahman
- Sharif Abdul Samat
- Daniel Bennett
- Nor Azli Yusoff
- Anders Alpin
- Brandon Koh
- Stanely Ng
- Taufiq Ghani
- Safirul Sulaiman
- Gabriel Quak
- Isa Halim
- Shafiq Ghani
- Shawal Anuar
- Carlos Delgado
- Amy Recha
- Sahil Suhaimi
- Indra Sahdan
- Branko Cubrilo
When the new season gets underway in February, ardent Geylang International fans will point to the fact that exactly two decades ago, the Eagles reigned supreme in the inaugural S.League.
In an end-of-season playoff in 1996, Geylang notched a 2-1 victory over the Singapore Armed Forces (now Warriors FC) in front of 30,000 fans at the National Stadium in Kallang.
But 20 years on, the club finds itself mired in mediocrity, settling for a bottom-half finish in the past five seasons.
The Eagles’ last league success came in 2001.
There is, however, a renewed sense of optimism that Geylang are primed to revive their glory days. It stems from the arrival of new management, led by chairman Ben Teng, signalling an overhaul of both the playing and backroom staff.
Former Singapore midfielder Hasrin Jailani, who was part of the Eagles’ triumph in 2001 as a player, has been handed the managerial reins at Bedok Stadium, a surprise given he has never taken on a head coaching role before.
Mohd Noor Ali – also a Geylang alumnus – will reprise the same role he held in 2012 after being installed at the club’s assistant coach.
Out on the field, only winger Shawal Anuar, Japanese defender Yuki Ichikawa, veteran hard man Nor Azli Yusoff and goalkeeper Hairul Syirhan have been retained.
Brandon Koh and Dhukilan Jeevamani, who rose to prominence at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, have been promoted to the Eagles’ S.League squad.
Much of the excitement from local fans has centred on the blockbuster signing of Jermaine Pennant by Geylang’s eastern rivals, Tampines Rovers.
But the Eagles have bought astutely as well, with Hasrin putting together a squad that has a solid balance of experience and youthful exuberance.
In Isa Halim, Daniel Bennett and Indra Sahdan, Geylang have 294 national caps worth of experience that will provide the side with leadership on and off the field. Shariff Samat has also joined from Tampines and the centre-back has amassed over 150 appearances in the league.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the younger signings are no pushovers either. Sahil Suhaimi, Amy Recha, Shahfiq Ghani, Safirul Sulaiman, Gabriel Quak, Faritz Hameed, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Syazwan Buhari and Stanely Ng have all represented Singapore at different levels over the last two years.
Hougang United's former Argentine playmaker Carlos Delgado and Croatian forward Branko Cubrilo round up the Eagle's foreign signings.
With chairman Teng eyeing a title challenge within three years, the feeling around Bedok is that the Eagles may well achieve that target in the coming season if they can quickly gel together.
The sleeping giants may have finally been awakened.
FFT'S S.LEAGUE PREDICTION: 4th
Boasting a young and dynamic squad, Geylang may just lack that little bit of maturity to challenge.
KEEP CLICKING BELOW FOR OUR COMPREHENSIVE GEYLANG PREVIEW
COACH CORNER – Hasrin Jailani
The rookie coach is out to perform in his first season in charge. Will he have the knowledge of how to get the best out of his talented, young squad?
STAR MAN – Daniel Bennett
A seasoned veteran, Daniel Bennett serves as a senator in the dressing room for his younger counterparts but says he still retains the hunger of old.
For more about one of Geylang's key men, click here.
VIEW FROM THE FANS
Stanley Wong is delighted with the amount of talent that has been assembled, and believes they can take the club to new levels this season.
YOUNG GUN – Dhukilan Jeevamani
The hype surrounding the young defender was overblown following his performances at the Youth Olympic Games in 2010, but 2016 could finally be the year Dhukilan Jeevamani is ready to fulfill his potential.
A prodigious centre-back who models his game after Jamie Carragher, read about his journey so far right here.
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