Hassan encouraged by positive feedback from Japan game
Singapore No. 1 features in J3 team Gainare's friendly draw with Incheon
In the end, he spent just 24 hours with the team.
But, Singapore and Home United shot-stopper Hassan Sunny was still thrilled with his experience with Japanese third-tier side Gainare Tottori in Osaka over the weekend.
The 32-year-old custodian played about 70 minutes of Gainare's 3-3 draw with top-tier South Korean side Incheon United at the J-Green Sakai training facility yesterday.
He had arrived in Japan on Friday night and was scheduled to link up with Gainare the following morning.
But a snowstorm delayed the team's arrival at Osaka from their Tottori base some 200km away by several hours.
However, despite minimal preparation, Hassan did not appear affected when he featured for Gainare in a training match of three 45-minute periods against Incheon yesterday.
He entered the game midway through the second period, with the Japanese side trailing 1-0.
Hassan, who communicated with his coaches and teammates through a translator off the pitch, was impressed with what he saw.
He told The New Paper over the phone: "It was a great result for the team, not only considering Gainare are J3 and Incheon are K-League, but also because our team were made up entirely of local players while Incheon had their foreign players.
"Most of our players were between 20 and 26 years old, but the level and intensity of the game were amazing. It was 90 minutes of just pressing, pressing and pressing.
"In the end, the teamwork and effort they put in for one another got them the result.
"It was a bit tough for me because, before the game, I didn't know their capability and they didn't know mine.
SECOND MATCH CANCELLED
"But I learnt some basic Japanese words about 10 minutes before the game - things like 'right', 'left', 'push up', 'tackle'... and that helped."
Hassan was scheduled to play a second match with the team today in Tottori, but bad weather scuppered those plans, too.
I came here not hoping for anything. I wanted to gain more experience and have a feel of what football at this level is like. I hope to get an opportunity like this again. I just want to learn.Hassan Sunny
"Even though my time with the team was short, it was a good experience," said Hassan, who earned an invite after Gainare watched videos of him in action.
"They told me they would have liked for me to join them in Tottori (for a few extra days as originally planned), so that was nice to hear."
Hassan added he was encouraged by the positive feedback he received from head coach Ryuzo Morioka and the club's goalkeeper coaches.
Morioka, incidentally, played alongside Hassan's former Warriors FC teammate Kazuyuki Toda at Shimizu S-Pluse and also the Japan national team.
If Gainare wish to sign Hassan ahead of the J3 season - which kicks off on March 11 - they have to approach Home and thrash out a deal soon.
However, Hassan said a transfer was not his priority.
"I came here not hoping for anything," he said.
"I wanted to gain more experience and have a feel of what football at this level is like. I hope to get an opportunity like this again. I just want to learn."