Eagles will be without suspended coach Hasrin
Geylang will be coached by Noor Ali tonight, as Hasrin sits in the stands
GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL v WARRIORS FC
(Tonight, 7.30pm, StarHub TV Ch 112/205 & 76.25MHz)
Along with title favourites Tampines Rovers, they are one of only two teams still unbeaten in the 2016 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.
But Geylang International's bid to extend that streak against Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight has become a little more complicated, as they will have to do without head coach Hasrin Jailani occupying his customary position on the bench.
Hasrin was sent off against Albirex Niigata last month following his outburst at a couple of unfavourable penalty decisions and was hit with a one-match suspension.
The rookie coach will watch the game from the stands and assistant coach Mohd Noor Ali will make the calls from the dugout.
While Hasrin's suspension is a blow, Eagles captain Isa Halim stressed that the team have taken it in stride.
"There's no point thinking about what you can't change; we'd rather focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the Warriors," said the 29-year-old former Singapore star, before a training session at Safra Tampines.
"We also have a good stand-in in Noor Ali, who's been with Hasrin for as long as I can remember, and he has earned the respect of the players.
"I'm sure he can do a good job."
Former national winger Noor Ali, 41, who played with Hasrin in the Geylang team who last won the S.League title in 2001, has no qualms about stepping up for the game.
"Being on the bench (in charge) for the first time adds a bit of pressure on me, but I'm sure I will settle down once the game gets going, especially because I've been in the football scene for quite some time," he said.
"We have many experienced players who have witnessed such a scenario before. Of course, I can't take instructions from Hasrin on the bench, so that's where my decision-making is very important."
This is Hasrin's first season as an S.League coach and the 41-year-old insisted he has learnt his lesson.
NEED FOR CONTROL
"It's not easy being suspended for a game; now I realise how important it is to control myself because the team need everyone," he said.
"We are doing well in terms of how we started off as compared to last season, but we should have been able to win some of the games we drew."
The Eagles have won one and drew four games in the S.League, with the lone victory coming against bottom-ranked side Young Lions in February, and Hasrin wants his charges to start picking up the three points.
"We are still unbeaten, but it's very important for us to get maximum points in our next game. We are creating chances, but we need to convert those chances into goals," he said.
Noor Ali, who attributed the lack of a killer touch in front of goal to the club's relatively new squad, warned of a tough match ahead, especially as the Warriors are fresh off a morale-boosting 2-0 victory over the White Swans last month.
"They have good players like Madhu (Mohana) and an experienced goalkeeper in Yazid (Yasin). Their foreigners have blended in well and they have got good results," he said.
"But we also know we have a team to compete with them. We have worked on a plan for two weeks so, hopefully, it works."
Isa added: "I know Jorg (Steinebrunner, Warriors coach) is facing his former club and he wants to win it badly. But, for us, it's just another game to collect the three points."