Football: Geylang International's Bezecourt looking to get some enjoyment at last

Vincent Bezecourt will make his debut against the Lion City Sailors in Geylang International's first match of the 2022 SPL season on Feb 4 at Our Tampines Hub. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Vincent Bezecourt is a champion footballer, winning the US Major League Soccer crown with the New York Red Bulls in 2018 and the Armenian Premier League with FC Alashkert later. He has even played in the Uefa Conference League and the qualification rounds of the Champions league and Europa League.

Yet, the 28-year-old French midfielder says he has not really enjoyed his journey so far. But he believes he can achieve this in 2022 with Geylang International.

Bezecourt, who will make his debut against the Lion City Sailors in Geylang International's first match of the 2022 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season on Friday (Feb 4) at Our Tampines Hub, said: "As much as I was a league champion, I haven't enjoyed it (football). In Armenia especially, I could not connect with local players because we spoke different languages.

"In terms of football, it was too defensive for my liking and when that is the case, an attacking player like me doesn't get to see too much of the action. It is important to me that I enjoy and feel happy while I play and I think I can get that here.

"Just winning alone does not mean you feel fulfilled."

The Bordeaux native added: "What I bring is flair and attacking threat and I like to be on the ball to create scoring opportunities for my team."

Geylang coach Noor Ali is confident that Bezecourt, along with Sime Zuzul, who has arrived from Balestier Khalsa, can link up well in front of goal. The pair have huge shoes to fill, given that Amy Recha and Matheus Moresche, who scored 23 goals between them for the Eagles last season, have left the club.

Said Noor Ali, 46: "We are lucky to have someone like Bezecourt. To be honest, he should be playing in a much bigger league so I was shocked that he wanted to come to this league and play for Geylang. He is going to be the brains of the team and I look forward to what he can do for us this season."

Geylang will have their work cut out in their opening match. They will face a Sailors side that kicked off their campaign with a 3-1 victory over Hougang United last Sunday (Feb 27). Last season, the Sailors thumped the Eagles 8-0.

The Eagles have not had the best of preparations either, cancelling all training sessions last week because they had at least 15 positive Covid-19 cases in the team. The team returned to practice only on Monday (Feb 28).

Said Noor Ali: "We have to be positive. It's a new environment with new players and we are all looking forward to our first match. Sailors are the kind of opponents everyone looks forward to facing."

Since their formation in 2020, the Sailors have won all five encounters against Geylang, scoring 20 goals in the process. But coach Kim Do-hoon says his team will not be complacent on Friday.

He said: "No matter who our opponents are, we will go out there with the focus of getting the job done."

Albirex Niigata v Balestier (March 5)

Last season's runners-up Albirex fell 2-0 to a decimated Tanjong Pagar United last week. The Japanese are on a dismal run, failing to win their last four SPL matches, dating back to last season.

Balestier will look to build on their 2-2 draw against Tampines Rovers last week, which saw them put up a stirring second-half comeback from two goals down.

This match also marks the return of ex-Albirex attackers Ryoya Taniguchi and Kuraba Kondo. The pair netted 17 goals between them for the Japanese side last season.

Tanjong Pagar United v Hougang United (March 6)

Tanjong Pagar will be be looking to register a second surprise victory in as many weeks when they face Hougang. Last week, due to a spate of Covid-19 cases, the Jaguars managed to name only five out of the permitted nine substitutes - two of whom were goalkeepers. This time, they will at least welcome back forward Khairul Amri and defender Shahrin Saberin.

Hougang are aiming to get their first points after starting the season with a 3-1 loss to the Sailors. But to do so, they will need to overcome a wretched recent record against their opponents - the Cheetahs failed to beat Tanjong Pagar in all three matches last season, with one loss and two draws.

Both matches will be played at the Jurong East Stadium.

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