Football: Set to fight for club, and against cancer

Football: Set to fight for club, and against cancer
KEEP GOING: Hougang United coach Amin Nasir has suffered a relapse of his cancer, which was thought to be in remission since the start of the year. He is still coaching his club but his future is now uncertain.

He suffered heartbreak on the pitch, after fate conspired to hand him a devastating blow.

Life can be cruel that way.

Just ask Amin Nasir.

The Hougang United coach had steered his side to the brink of a first finish in the top-six of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League, only to watch Balestier Khalsa pip them at the finish, and this was after doctors had confirmed the discovery of a cancerous 10-millimetre growth in the 44-year-old's stomach and another near his kidney.

There is no give-up in Amin's make-up, though, and the former international defender, who represented Singapore from 1990 to 1992, is determined to continue his fight on both fronts.

On the pitch, Amin wants to motivate Hougang to at least equal their best finish of seventh place in the S.League and take at least 11 points from the five matches in the half-round of games to beat their highest tally of 43 points, which they achieved in the 33-game season in 2011.

After their 3-0 away win over Woodlands Wellington last night, they have consolidated seventh spot and are up to 36 points with four games remaining.

Under the two-and-a-half round format introduced last season, the north-eastern club can actually make history by becoming the first team to accumulate more points than teams in the top half.

"It's definitely very frustrating," said Amin, shaking his head as he recollected how his team had allowed a seven-point lead over Balestier slip.

"One moment, we were on a nine-match unbeaten streak, we matched the top teams, we looked like we were fighting for top three, and we were feeling good.

"But we lost three games in a row against supposedly weaker teams like Courts Young Lions, Balestier and Harimau Muda B and ended up in the bottom half for the half-round. "One minute, we are a good team and I'm a good coach, but now I look like a lousy coach because of our recent results. One point out of nine, and we couldn't do it."

However, the S.League have recognised Amin's overall good work and will introduce him today as the coach for the S.League Selection side for the upcoming Sultan of Selangor Cup, which takes place at the Shah Alam Stadium on Sept 27.


Amin said: "It's a big honour to be appointed coach of the S.League Selection side and I really appreciate this opportunity to be part of the Sultan of Selangor Cup. It feels good when our good work is being recognised.

"As for Hougang, we'll just have to be professional and move on. Yes, our morale is low and we are sad, but we have to look at the positives because in general we have had a good season.

"We cannot dwell on the past, we have to think 'what next', because we can still do Hougang, and our fans, proud."

That fighter's mentality will hold him in good stead for the even bigger battle with cancer for the second time in recent years.

He was first diagnosed with fourth-stage colon cancer in late 2012, but successfully fought his way back to fitness, before the new discovery last month in a routine check-up. The older brother of former national captain Nazri Nasir will undergo chemotherapy, but will only start his sessions after the season ends next month.

He said: "Football is what motivates me through these sad periods. It was tougher when I found out for the first time that I had cancer. Now, I'm prepared for it.

"Like football, life can be cruel.

"I would be lying if I said I'm not scared or worried. I have a family and responsibilities on and off the pitch. Of course there are times when I wonder why is this happening to me again.

"But I'm grateful to my wife and family who have always been there for me, an understanding club and chairman (Bill Ng) who have given me the opportunity to coach Hougang, and responsive players to work with," he said.

"I enjoy coming to training even though I'm not well because spending two hours at the stadium really helps to take my mind off my worries.

"We are already in the midst of preparing for next season, and of course I would like to continue the work I've started here," he added.

"I want to help prove that Hougang are a good team. But I will also have to discuss with my surgeon and also the club management to see what is fair for the club, too.

"Like football, I can only be as well-prepared I can be to fight as hard as I can. The end result is beyond my control. Whatever will be, will be."

This article was first published on September 19, 2014.
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