Match Of The Week

Football: Eagles soar with Hasrin at the helm

Geylang International’s coach Hasrin Jailani giving instructions to his team during a friendly match.
Geylang International’s coach Hasrin Jailani giving instructions to his team during a friendly match. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

An old boy of Geylang, new coach brings unique perspective to former champs

S-LEAGUE

Geylang International v Albirex Niigata Bedok Stadium, 7.30pm

It was an hour before the start of a Geylang International training session at Bedok Stadium. Their coach Hasrin Jailani was sitting in the stands when he saw Carlos Delgado walking towards him.

"You look very handsome today!" the 40-year-old former Singapore international told the Argentinian player and the pair broke into laughter.

It is not your usual coach-player exchange but the mood at the Bedok Stadium these days is one of optimism, with the Eagles second in the S-League. In fact, this is the first time that the Bedok-based club have started the season with four unbeaten games since their 2001 title-winning campaign.

Hasrin's camaraderie with his players and familiarity with his charges - it was only seven years ago that he hung up his boots - is one of the reasons behind the feel-good factor at the club.

"We are on a good run and it has helped the mood in the team," Hasrin, who was part of the 2001 team, told The Straits Times. "It is positive and there is a lot of happiness during training."

This is Hasrin's first season as club head coach and he believes his youthfulness is an advantage.

GOOD RUN, GOOD MOOD

Currently we are on a good run and it has helped the mood in the team. It is positive and there is a lot of happiness during training.

HASRIN JAILANI, Geylang coach, on the camaraderie in the camp.

"I'm grateful that the club are willing to take a chance on someone who is new in coaching in the S-League and I'm enjoying every bit of it," he said. "As a coach, I have to make sure they are always happy to come for training and my age does help a little."

He also has the support of his former team-mate and current assistant Noor Ali and he believes they complement each other.

"We have come a long way, from our playing days to taking coaching courses together. He is someone who sees what I have missed out on; we are also similar in the way that we want the team to play," said Hasrin, who spent six years as a Geylang player and also played for Home United and Woodlands.

Geylang captain Isa Halim, 29, used to play opposite Hasrin in the S-League during his time with the Young Lions, and he believes that his current coach has what it takes to take the team forward.

"We used to play against each other so it's a bit weird. But I respected him as a player for giving his 100 per cent and now as a coach, he continues to do the same," said the Singapore international. "He has a lot of fresh ideas and is willing to listen to the feedback from the players and improve himself."

With the Eagles yet to win at home after two consecutive draws with Brunei DPMM (1-1) and Balestier Khalsa (0-0), they are desperate to beat league leaders Albirex Niigata today.

"I think if we want to be somewhere near the top, we have to win the home games," said Geylang right-back Faritz Abdul Hameed.

Isa concurred: "Playing at home is always an advantage and we have et to start winning.

"Albirex have been very impressive with their good mobility as a team and very technical players but we will work our best to get the three points."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2016, with the headline 'Eagles soar with Hasrin at the helm'. Print Edition | Subscribe