EXPERIENCE over youth
Geylang International coach
V Kanan has learned his lesson.
You don't win anything with boys.
After a disappointing 10th-placed finish last season, the 50-year-old coach decided to overhaul his squad for 2014 - doing away with youth and replacing it with experience.
He replaced all five foreign imports from last year - the only team to do that this season.
The result, Kanan said, is an Eagles team better equipped for a long season ahead.
"Last year, I thought we could do well with youngsters," said the coach, who released six local players under 23 years last November.
"To be fair, we did compete, but we lacked that cutting edge to win games.
"This year, we've brought in experienced players - guys who can hold the ball and score goals."
Indeed, the Eagles were over-reliant on midfielder Jozef Kaplan last year.
The Slovak, who has since left for Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia, notched 14 of Geylang's 31 league goals in 2013.
Their second-highest scorer was Yasir Hanapi (four), who has left for Home United.
To spread the scoring burden, Kanan went on a two-week scouting trip to Argentina last November and signed three players - striker Leonel Felice, playmaker Franco Chivilo and midfielder Joaquin Lopez.
He also roped in Aliff Shafaein and former international winger Ridhuan Mohammad.
"Kaplan is a big loss for us, but now we have two players - Leonel and Franco - to replace him.
"We also have more speed on the flanks than any other team in the league.
"Ridhuan, Hafiz (Nor), Mustaqim (Manzur) and Hamqammal (Shah) are all very good wingers.
"So I'm sure we will score more goals than last season."
The Eagles are anxious about their defence, however, as new signing Kento Fukuda must sit out the first four weeks with a hamstring injury.
To compensate for his absence, Kanan is likely to drop midfielder Joaquin back into central defence, alongside Yuki Ichikawa, who, like Fukuda, also arrived from Albirex.
"I rather the injuries happen now than in mid-season," Kanan said.
"Last year, The New Paper tipped us to finish in the top three.
"If our key players stay fit this year, I think a top-four finish is possible.
"So you can go ahead and make that prediction again."