SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE
Albirex Niigata v Home United
Jurong East Stadium, 5.30pm
Former national defender Noh Rahman got his coaching career in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) off to the best possible start on Wednesday after he guided Home United to an impressive 3-0 win over Geylang International.
But the 38-year-old, who took over the reins on an interim basis from Saswadimata Dasuki last Friday, has not had much time to enjoy his maiden victory.
With a wry smile, he told The Straits Times yesterday: "Being a player and a coach are two very different things.
"As a player, you just have to focus on what you eat, how you train, and to give your best in games.
"As a coach, the minute one game ends, you're already thinking about the next game."
He is expecting a much tougher challenge today against defending champions Albirex Niigata at the Jurong East Stadium.
NO TIME TO REST
As a player, you just have to focus on what you eat, how you train, and to give your best in games. As a coach, the minute one game ends, you're already thinking about the next game.
NOH RAHMAN, Home United's interim head coach, is slowly becoming aware of the huge demands of the job.
The Japanese team went undefeated last season en route to a third straight league championship, but a new league rule this term means Albirex had to sign at least four Singaporean players, with at least two of them starting and playing the entire first half.
Albirex are smarting after a 4-2 defeat by Hougang United on Wednesday, their second loss of the season, and are fourth on 11 points after seven games, one ahead of fifth-placed Home.
Said Noh: "It's a 5.30pm kick-off on a hard (artificial) ground, and it could be hot. We are expecting a tough game."
During a 20-year playing career which he called time on at the end of 2016, he earned 79 international caps as well as a reputation for being one of the most professional local footballers around. Widely respected by his peers, he won two league titles (2001, 2002), two Singapore Cups (2012, 2013) and two AFF Suzuki Cups (2004, 2007).
One of the first things the rookie coach did after his appointment was to consult a group of six senior players. "It was quite a lengthy meeting where we shared quite a lot of things, and I appreciate the players (for) being honest," he said.
Veteran full-back Juma'at Jantan, 35, was one of those involved.
Said Juma'at: "In football, one of the most important things is communication. If we have that, things will fall into place.
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"Noh is a no-nonsense type on and off the field and the players, even myself, look up to him. And he is open (to feedback) as well, so I think he is the best choice to lead the team for now."
Juma'at, along with Izzdin Shafiq, Abdil Qaiyyim and South Korean midfielder Song Ui-yong in the squad, were teammates with Noh when he played at the Protectors from 2013 to 2015.
Asked if he felt weird coaching players he once shared a pitch and changing room with, Noh said: "Yes, a little bit. But they are great, they know where the line between a coach and the players is. And I appreciate the fact they understand their roles in the team well."
Home youngster Adam Swandi recalled that Noh was one of the established seniors when he received his first Lions call-up in 2013.
The 23-year-old, who scored against Geylang, said: "Coach Noh has a lot of experience and he is a role model for players like me.
"He has so much to offer our team and Singapore football."
Noh said he has been told by the club that a new head coach would be appointed within six weeks, and is looking forward to returning to his role of assistant coach, which he said was "to assist and learn".
"I'm not shy in saying I feel I am not ready for a head coach job like this," said Noh. "But it's a challenge I am ready to take on."