Ben Teng: Good if Yamaga want key Eagles
Geylang International chairman hopes Gabriel Quak, Shawal Anuar and Noor Ali's week-long stint with J2 League side will benefit Singapore football
Q: How do you feel being able to make use of this memorandum of understanding with Matsumoto Yamaga to send two Geylang International players to J.League for trials?
BEN TENG: It is a great opportunity for some of our players to demonstrate their worth to Matsumoto Yamaga.
I believe that the possibility of such pre-season exchanges or trials through our MOU with Matsumoto Yamaga will motivate our other players to work even harder to prove themselves so that they may able be talent spotted and selected for a trial with Matsumoto Yamaga.
Gabriel Quak and Shawal Anuar are two key players for your team. In the dream scenario that Yamaga are interested in either or both players, what would it mean for Geylang?
BEN TENG: It would be a good problem to have.
One of Geylang's key mission is to develop talent for the national football team and such foreign exposure, especially in one of the best leagues in Asia, for our promising players can only enhance their skills and ability and would help further the national cause.
Your assistant coach Noor Ali is also with Gabriel and Shawal in Shimizu now to observe Yamaga's training methods. Is there any movement in the other direction in terms of coaches?
BEN TENG: This will be a good chance for Noor Ali to learn and pick up on Japan football's best coaching practices.
And yes, based on our MOU, Yamaga Under-18s coach Takahiro Usui will be in Singapore to head our centre of excellence for a season, working closely with our coaches to oversee our Under-15s and Under-17s.
He will start work from this month. I believe he will bring with him a higher level of structured physical training and tactical football to our youth COE.
You took over the reins last year and the club had a decent season, finishing fifth in the S.League, making a late push for the AFC Cup and winning League Cup plate final. Looking back, what do you make of the last term and what are some of the lessons learnt? What were the highlights and challenges?
BEN TENG: I think two of the key requisites for a successful football team are discipline and fitness.
We will be focusing on these two areas in the coming season.
Players need to be self-motivated - to go train and maintain their fitness on their own outside of official training sessions - and be willing to fight for the club's glory.
Obviously, any football team will depend very much on the teamwork and camaraderie between its players; prima donnas would do the team no good.
Our criteria for selecting players would be based on these lessons which we have learnt over the past year.
Lastly, we have also observed that, when given the opportunity, younger players from our Prime League squad have been fearless in front of older and more experienced opponents - so we need to give younger players more opportunities to prove themselves.
What are your hopes and targets for the Eagles this season, and what is your long-term vision for the club?
BEN TENG: We hope the club will perform at least as well, if not better than last season.
The process of remaking the club is a works in progress - we aim to build a squad of committed and self-motivated players and to develop them to be top class players who will be called up for the national team.
At the same time, we will accelerate the process of bringing up promising young players from our Prime League team to give them playing time in S.League matches.
*David Lee's trip is courtesy of Epson, sponsors of Matsumoto Yamaga and Geylang International