Eagles star Quak finds joy in football again
Newly married, Quak vows to improve on the pitch as he nears his peak
HOUGANG UNITED v GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL
(Tonight, 7.30pm, Hougang Stadium)
Scoring on and off the pitch, Gabriel Quak must be a contented man right now.
The 25-year-old winger signed a two-year deal with Geylang International after the LionsXII were disbanded last year and has started well for his new club.
He helped the Eagles secure their first win of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season when his incisive pass allowed Faritz Abdul Hameed to seal a 2-0 victory over the Garena Young Lions on Feb 25.
Last week, in his first full match, he grabbed his first goal when he slotted past Yazid Yasin in a thrilling 2-2 draw against Warriors FC.
In between the action on the pitch, Quak married Melissa Teo, his sweetheart of almost eight years, on March 20.
"It really is a new chapter of my life now," Quak told The New Paper, ahead of tonight's S.League clash against Hougang United.
"For the first time in my career, I'm stepping out of the Football Association of Singapore set-up and signing for a professional club that are not the Young Lions or the LionsXII.
"I'm no longer a youngster. I'm at the point where I should be entering my peak and as one of the national players at my club, I have to perform on a consistent basis and it is a challenge I relish.
"Marrying Mel is the biggest occasion of my life.
"She has been the biggest source of motivation in my career and every time I step on the pitch, I want to make her and my family proud of me."
Compared to his performances for the LionsXII, where he produced only flashes of brilliance with six goals in three seasons (he did not play in 2012 due to national service), Quak is playing more expressively and with confidence now.
"I can feel it, and I think others can see it too, that I'm rediscovering my joy for playing football again," he said.
"It is not that I didn't enjoy my time with the LionsXII. It was great to play in front of packed stadiums and we had some remarkable success, with most of us winning a league title for the first time in our professional careers.
"I give of my best in every game but, at times, I was more concerned about not making mistakes than making a contribution on the pitch.
"That put me in a bad position because as an attacker, the onus is on me to create chances or score.
"I decided to sign for Geylang because they made me feel comfortable right from our contract negotiations.
"The chairman and management have full faith and trust in me and I feel like I have overcome the negative feelings and I'm look forward to repaying that trust."
Geylang coach Hasrin Jalani is pleased over the way his new signing has settled in.
"You will see that there's more to come from Gabriel, especially in terms of attack," said the 40-year-old rookie coach.
"We want to see him take on defenders, shoot, supply, and score more. We have many attacking players such as Gabriel, Amy Recha, Shawal Anuar, Sahil Suhaimi and Stanely Ng and I give them the freedom to express themselves in the opponents' half.
"I believe in their ability and the important thing is, with so many attackers in our squad, whoever plays has to be on his toes and give his best to keep his place."
Quak's commitment is clear - he turned down the opportunity to attend Officer Cadet School during NS so that he could have more time for football, and he also reported for national training a day after his wedding.
"This is both my passion and my livelihood so I have to take it seriously," said Quak, who has scored two goals in 15 appearances for his country.
"Of course, my aim for the year is to make it to the Suzuki Cup squad but, for now, my priority is to help Geylang move up the table and win at least a cup this year, because I believe we have a strong team capable of winning something.
"We have started believing we are actually better that what we think and apply it against Hougang.
"They are a good side, with a solid frontline of three hardworking imports, backed by hardcore fans.
"But we also have our own Ultras Eagles who should make things interesting in the stands and I believe that if we play to the best of our abilities, we can take the three points."
"Marrying Mel is the biggest occasion of my life. She has been the biggest source of motivation in my career and every time I step on the pitch, I want to make her and my family proud of me."
- Gabriel Quak, on marrying his longtime sweetheart Melissa Teo last month