Noor Ali looks to spirit of 2009 as Eagles eye cup run
|GEYLANG INT'L||GLOBAL CEBU|
He still remembers that moment vividly.
Standing in front of goal, he stabbed the ball goalwards, then saw it crash off the woodwork before a teammate rifled the ball home.
That turned out to be the winning goal of the 2009 RHB Singapore Cup final, one of Noor Ali's best footballing memories.
The then-captain of Geylang International led the team on a fairy-tale run to the final where the Eagles beat Thailand's Bangkok Glass 1-0 for what remains the club's last major honour.
And Noor, now part of the coaching staff at Geylang, hopes his players can emulate what their predecessors did - overcome the odds and go on a good run in the Singapore Cup.
The Eagles face Philippine side Global Cebu at Jalan Besar Stadium tomorrow night.
"It was definitely one of the best memories of my playing career, because that team were not one of the favourites - we were in fact the underdogs throughout the cup run," the former Singapore international told The New Paper yesterday, recalling Hafiz Rahim's 81st-minute winner.
"We really wanted to win something for the club and it wasn't just the performance against Bangkok Glass.
"We had to beat Warriors, Home (United) and Albirex (Niigata) to earn the right to face the Thais in the final.
"That 2009 Geylang team were full of workers and we all put in hard work to become champions. And that is exactly what I want to see in this team."
The 42-year-old took charge of the Eagles' training session at Bedok Stadium yesterday, with the club's management revealing that head coach Hasrin Jailani is on personal leave for two weeks.
TNP understands that Hasrin is poised to leave the club, with Noor taking the reins for the remainder of the season at least.
Noor declined to comment on the matter, choosing to focus on the task at hand.
"We've got to be cautious of Global, who are a very good team. They just lost in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup semi-finals and they will definitely want to do well in the Singapore Cup," he said.
Global were beaten by Home United in the two-legged AFC Cup semi-finals, but they are no strangers to Singapore football. The Philippine side made the Singapore Cup semi-finals twice in the last four years.
"They've got good individuals who play with speed and aggression, but we have a plan. Hopefully, we can come away with an upset," said Noor.
Two local sides - Warriors FC and Balestier Khalsa - have already fallen to Cambodian opposition in the first round, and that has given Geylang added impetus.
"It is a motivating factor for us to be the first local team to qualify from this stage of the Singapore Cup," said Noor.
"There is pride to play for - it's Singapore versus a foreign team. Our fans will be watching us and it's important that we put in a good performance."