Young Lions look to bounce back
Coach Hesse hardly discouraged as charges show pep ahead of Eagles clash
GARENA YOUNG LIONS v GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL
(Jalan Besar Stadium, Tonight, 7.30pm)
Patrick Hesse flashed a wry smile when asked about his first game in charge of the Garena Young Lions.
Standing in front of his bench at the Jalan Besar Stadium in his first Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League match last Saturday, he could only watch as his young team fell 5-0 to title hopefuls Albirex Niigata.
Far from being disheartened at the way his managerial reign with the Young Lions began, the Frenchman - along with his charges - showed good spirit and endeavour yesterday in their final training session at Jalan Besar Stadium before tonight's clash with Geylang International.
Hesse would have been pleased with plenty of what they displayed, from the way Fareez Farhan unleashed a 25-metre free-kick into the back of the net, to Adam Swandi's ferocious effort off a loose ball that also flew in, drawing loud cheers .
The important thing now for Hesse is for his players to do the same when it matters, as they look to bounce back against the Eagles.
"When the game is finished, it's finished," he told The New Paper, referring to their loss to Albirex.
"You cannot play this game again but every game, and every training session, can be used for progress.
"One cannot make huge changes in one or two weeks only, but we've showed the players some errors (against Albirex) and it's important to not make these same errors.
"More important than (tomorrow's) result is that we play a good game.
"If mentally, technically and tactically we play well, and Geylang still win because they are better, then that's not a problem.
"If they win because we didn't perform, that's not good."
One key player who will be absent from the Young Lions line-up once again is captain Khairul Amri, who was initially set to only miss the first two matches of the season.
The Singapore international told The New Paper yesterday that he had recovered from the calf problem that had dogged him but medical staff do not want to take any risks, meaning he will do more strengthening work.
His new return date is on March 10 against Hougang United.
While he will once again have to watch on from the sidelines, Amri is hopeful he can inspire his teammates (inset) with his words, for now at least.
"We're taking it just one game at a time but we have to go into every match trying to win it," he told TNP.
"We must look to upset the odds and crash the party and, even though we're a young team, I've told them, 'Your time has come and you have to take this chance'."
He may have only one game under his belt, but Hesse does already appear to have a good relationship with the players, from the way they listened intently to his post-training debrief, to how they each made an effort to shake his hand before leaving the pitch.
Even with the media he appeared every bit an approachable and easygoing individual, although there was one final question he decided not to answer yesterday.
"Maybe," he replied, when asked if new French goalkeeper Benjamin Bertrand would make his debut against Geylang.
With a knowing grin, added: "We shall see."
“We’re taking it just one game at a time but we have to go into every match trying to win it. We must look to upset the odds and crash the party and, even though we’re a young team, I’ve told them, ‘Your time has come and you have to take this chance’.”
— Garena Young Lions’ captain Khairul Amri (above), who will sit out the match