Eye-opener for Quak and Shawal in Japan
The high standard of league football in Japan was an eye-opener to Singaporean footballers Gabriel Quak and Shawal Anuar.
After going through their first training session with second-division outfit Matsumoto Yamaga yesterday afternoon, the duo were left in no doubt that they are in the right place to hone their trade.
After they were whisked away to the National Training Centre in Shimizu at 11am, they were shown their rooms in the impressive facility.
"Already, our jerseys were neatly hung in the rooms and training equipment were already placed on the pitch hours before our training started at 3.30pm," said Quak.
After lunch, Yamaga manager Yasuharu Sorimachi conducted a meeting to explain the objectives of the training session, which focused on defence.
Shawal said: "It is all very detailed, what he wanted each player to do. The attention to details on and off the pitch in terms of tactics and making sure every player is ready to execute what the coach wanted is an eye-opener."
In front of 20 Yamaga fans - some of whom drove three hours from Matsumoto to watch their J2 League team train - and 10 members of the local media, the Geylang International wingers did not look out of place in the warm-up and pressing drills.
But the cold conditions, as the temperature dipped to 10 deg C, made things a little tougher.
Shawal said: "The cold conditions made breathing difficult during high-intensity sessions because we are not used to it, but we can only improve if we push ourselves past our comfort zone."
Quak added: "It has always been my dream to play in Japan and this stint brings me one step closer. I'm sure we will improve with this experience."
Sorimachi empathised with the duo and feels that it will take a little while more before they show what they are capable of.
He said: "They are doing okay as of today.
"I know they feel tired after travelling and are playing at a different place under different conditions. But if they want to come to J.League one day, they have to show us more."
Geylang assistant coach Noor Ali urged his players to make the most out of this week's programme, which includes a friendly match against J3 League side Azul Claro Numazu on Sunday.
The former international winger said: "They need to show more aggression and be more vocal to show how much they want an extended stint with the J.League club."
* David Lee's trip is courtesy of Epson, sponsors of Matsumoto Yamaga and Geylang International.