Kanan cautious with expectations as Geylang take shape for 2014

The Geylang International roster for the 2014 Great Eastern-YEO’s S.League campaign is taking shape after the club announced a raft of new signings in the past week.

The Eagles were disappointing last season as they finished ninth in the 12-team competition, despite being tipped by many to challenge for a place in the top five.

Last week, the club confirmed that only six players would be retained from the 2013 squad; goalkeeper Joey Sim, right-back Khairulnizam Jumahat, and midfielders Fabian Kwok, Nurhazwan Norasikin, Jalal and Shah Hirul.

Geylang’s foreign player slots were also filled after coach V. Kanan returned from a scouting trip to Argentina and secured the services of a trio from the South American country in striker Leonel Felice, playmaker Franco Chivilo and 18-year-old midfielder Joaquin Lopez.

30-year-old Felice is likely to garner the most interest given he had a previous spell in Vietnam with Hanoi T&T, and will be expected to fill the void left by the departure of former captain and fan favourite Jozef Kaplan, who was the club’s top scorer in the past two campaigns but has since joined Malaysia Premier League outfit Negeri Sembilan.

And although Martin Wagner, the last Argentinean to play in the S.League, had a terrible time with Tampines Rovers as he was released midway through the recent season, Kanan is confident his trio will have no such problems.

“I know they will be a success in the S.League,” he told The New Paper.

“I went all the way to Argentina, 30 hours in a plane, just to sign these guys. If they don’t bring something special to the team, I would’ve seriously wasted my time.

“Leonel has all the qualities a striker should have; he’s strong, fast and clinical.

“Franco will complement him well. He’s a simple player but very hardworking; a box-to-box midfielder.”

Former Albirex Niigata (S) defenders Yuki Ichikawa and Kento Fukuda complete their overseas contingent for next season.

Apart from the new foreign quartet, the Eagles have also confirmed the arrival of several established Singaporean players, including winger Hafiz Nor from Tanjong Pagar United, ex-Balestier Khalsa utility Hamqaamal Shah, and midfield duo Aliff Shafaein and Mustaqim Manzur from Home United.

And after exuding plenty of confidence at the start of 2013 only to fall short of expectations, Kanan has decided to take a more conservative stance ahead of the coming season.

“I don’t want to pressure myself and say we will finish in the top two or four next year,” he added. “But we will surely do better.”

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