Welcome back, one express
Ridhuan wastes no time thrilling the crowd again after returning from Indonesia
GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL v HOUGANG UNITED
(Tomorrow, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
For many S.League fans, it was a familiar sight.
Against Harimau Muda B last Thursday, Ridhuan Muhammad tore down the flanks like a man on a mission.
In the end, Geylang International won 3-0, with Ridhuan scoring one goal from an overhead kick and setting up the other two for Leonel Felice and Aliff Shafaein.
This is his first season back in the S.League after spending the past four years plying his trade in Indonesia.
But the former schoolboy sprinting champion, who was nicknamed the One Express for his blistering speed, feels like he has never left.
He said: "I feel great. It hasn't been too hard to adapt because I know my fitness level is good, but I still need to work on my conditioning and strength,
"It can be quite physical out on the pitch.
"I wanted to show that even though I've been gone for four years, I still have what it takes to play here."
Ridhuan certainly had what it took to cut it in Indonesia.
He starred at Arema Cronus (formerly known as Arema Malang) for three years, winning the Indonesia Super League in his first season there, before spending last year on loan at Putra Samarida FC.
Family was what made him decide to come home.
The 29-year-old said: "My father said he missed me so much while I was away.
"And lately, my family has been facing financial difficulties, so having me back in Singapore helps them a lot."
Ridhuan spent pre-season with defending champions Tampines Rovers, but things did not work out between him and his former club.
The Eagles subsequently snapped him up, albeit on a part-time basis.
That hasn't stopped him from giving his all though.
He said: "Although I'm technically playing just part-time football, I still go for all the training sessions in the mornings and afternoons.
"Their coach Kanan made me captain because he could see that I am experienced enough, and that I always give my all and pull my weight.
"My priority, after I came back, was to make my presence felt again, and to show what I'm capable of."
Since his return, he has featured in all of Geylang's matches.
The Eagles are on a high since Jorg Steinebrunner took over the reins as head coach.
Under the German, Geylang have notched two wins (1-0 against Courts Young Lions and 3-0 against Harimau Muda) and a draw (1-1 with Brunei DPMM), and climbed up to ninth in the table.
The improved form comes as a relief to the skipper, who saw the club begin their campaign with three losses.
He said: "The team still need time to gel, especially with myself and the foreign signings, but I have no doubt we can take the club back to their glory days.
"It's a slow, but steady climb.
"We have to be realistic. We're not aiming to be champions this season, but at least a top-five finish."
A good result against fourth-placed Hougang United at the Jalan Besar Stadium tomorrow will give them another shot in the arm.
The Cheetahs are on a high after beating table-toppers Tampines Rovers 4-2 last week.
For Ridhuan, he knows that another good performance by him will take him closer to clinching a full-time contract.
With dedication, and support from his family, he knows it will happen sooner rather than later.
He said: "My family have gone to every match since I came back and it feels great to see them among the crowd.
"Now, I just want to focus on playing well in every game."
My priority, after I came back, was to make my presence felt again, and to show what I’m capable of.
— Ridhuan Muhammad, who returned to the S.League to play for Geylang International this season