Football

A hard landing

S.League players don't always see the end coming, just ask Jeremy Chiang and Jaslee Hatta

Warriors FC’s Jeremy Chiang. - PHOTO: TNP FILE

Balestier Khalsa’s Jaslee Hatta. - PHOTO: TNP FILE

One moment you're on a high, and the next, you could be crashing down to earth.

Such is the uncertainty S.League footballers face at the end of every season.

On Friday, clubs submitted their retain list to indicate which players they wish to keep or release for next season.

Among those released was Jeremy Chiang.

The fullback was a starter for Warriors FC until he picked up a serious knee injury in an S.League match against Home United in May, that ruled him out for the whole year.

The 29-year-old was recently told by the club that he was free to go, as the club wanted someone who will report for pre-season in January 100 per cent fit.

Although still undergoing rehabilitation, he is nearing recovery and has been told he should be able to train by January.

He was even praised for his "desire to improve", along with fellow fullback Zulfadli Zainal Abidin, by Warriors coach Alex Weaver in April.

"It's tough to hold back tears," said the defender, who has two caps for Singapore.

"I feel very sad and bitter. My contract ends this month. I'm not covered by the club or S.League.

LIMBO

"So where will I do my rehab? Even if I am fully fit later on, would any club take me in June (the mid-season transfer window)?"

In two years' time, Chiang will also be affected by the S.League's new restrictions, one of which limits clubs to only five players over the age of 30 in a 22-man squad.

Unless he can convince a club to sign him, he has to call time on his football career.

He said: "I was driving past Choa Chu Kang Stadium (Warriors' home stadium) when my two-year-old son told me, 'Papa, that's your stadium'.

"I had to tell him it's not anymore."

Another player whose career hangs in the balance is Balestier Khalsa's Jaslee Hatta.

Two Fridays ago, the 33-year-old Tigers vice-captain led his team to RHB Singapore Cup glory when they beat Home United 3-1, in the absence of skipper Paul Cunningham.

But that may not be enough to save him his rice bowl.

"It's a strange feeling," said Jaslee.

"Just over a week ago, I wore the captain's armband and lifted the Singapore Cup, but now, I'm not sure of my future because I haven't been offered a contract by Balestier."

It’s tough to hold back tears. I feel very sad and bitter.

— Warriors FC’s Jeremy Chiang

Just over a week ago, I wore the captain’s armband and lifted the Singapore Cup, but now, I’m not sure of my future because I haven’t been offered a contract by Balestier.

— Balestier Khalsa’s Jaslee Hatta