Football: Geylang offer Abbas Saad a job but work pass application and appeal rejected

Geylang International had offered Abbas Saad the job of heading its youth development programme until the end of the season. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Former Malaysia Cup star Abbas Saad is having a "fantastic" attachment with Geylang International which is part of a requirement for his ongoing Asian Football Confederation Professional Football Diploma course.

The diploma, better known locally as a Pro Licence, is the highest level of accreditation issued by football's governing body for Asia and will enable him to coach top-tier clubs.

Geylang had offered the 53-year-old Australian the job of heading its youth development programme until the end of the season (Oct 2), with an option to extend for the next season. But, despite interest from both parties, his stint with the Singapore Premier League club is unlikely to go beyond November when the course ends.

An Eagles spokesman told The Straits Times: "Abbas Saad's S Pass application for our head of youth development position has been rejected by the Ministry of Manpower."

The ministry, citing his "adverse record", turned down the employment pass application and subsequent appeal, which were supported by Sport Singapore and the Football Association of Singapore.

Former Australia international Abbas is still a popular figure in Singapore as many remember him for helping the Lions break a 13-year Malaysia Cup drought with his hat-trick in the 1994 final to beat Pahang 4-0.

The following year, he was convicted of match-fixing, fined $50,000 by the Singapore courts and received a global football ban, including a lifetime suspension from football-related activities in the Republic. The ban was overturned in 2009, and he went on to work as a football pundit for ESPN Star Sports and Singtel.

On Saturday (Aug 14), Abbas, now a married father of three, remained positive even though his disappointment was apparent.

He said: "I'm super happy and grateful to be here for the course. I'm loving my time here with an ambitious club that want to improve.

"I have a lot to offer with my expertise, experience and credentials, so hopefully something good comes out of my time in Singapore, and I can be part of the football scene here."

Abbas started coaching at senior level in 2007 and led Sydney Olympic to the third-tier Australian National Premier League New South Wales Premier League and Cup double in 2018 and was named Coach of the Year.

His time with the Eagles, which started in May, has coincided with a mini resurgence of two wins in three games. In part due also to some shrewd signings, their points tally has almost doubled to 13 as they climbed to fifth in the eight-team league ahead of the weekend's fixtures.

Geylang coach Noor Ali said: "Abbas understands the game well, has massive experience, gives good advice, and is always positive.

"The players look up to him and we work well together because he is also not afraid to give young players a chance. He has definitely contributed to our good results and he will be a great asset if we can keep him."

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