Football: Geylang in chaos

V Kanan (in blue), coach for Geylang International, speaking to his players during a training session on 17 February 2014.

It is only one game into the 2014 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season, but trouble is already brewing at the Bedok Stadium.

Administrative problems have already contributed to Geylang International losing their opening fixture 2-1 to Warriors FC last Saturday.

Against the Warriors, Geylang had to do without Argentinian forward Leonel Felice, who is still awaiting approval for an employment pass.

With their Prime League (Under-21) squad yet to clear the league's mandatory 2.4-kilometre test, coach V Kanan was left with only three substitutes to call upon against the Warriors.

And the situation could potentially spiral out of control.

Now, Geylang may have to look for a new Prime League coach.

Replacing former Singapore international Noor Ali, Argentinian Nazareno Velez was brought in as the coach of Geylang's Prime League team and assistant to Kanan's S.League side.

The S.League requires that a Prime League coach hold an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) "A" Licence or its equivalent, and with question marks raised over the validity of his coaching licence, Velez will not be allowed to take the reins of the team.

But the league does not have a similar requirement for assistant coaches in the S.League, allowing Velez to continue working with Kanan's senior side.

In response to queries from The New Paper, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) confirmed that Velez's coaching certificates - that were obtained in Argentina and in Spanish - were submitted last week, and are being translated.

Geylang are not allowed to appoint Velez as their Prime League coach before his credentials are verified by the FAS technical committee.

Speaking to TNP yesterday, Kanan said: "Of course it was a problem having just three players on the bench with Leonel unavailable.

"And if Velez's credentials aren't validated by the FAS, then we will have no choice but to look for another coach.

"I don't know what role he will play in the club if that happens."

BIGGER BENCH

With players returning from injuries and suspensions, Geylang will at least have a bigger bench when they travel to face Home United at Bishan Stadium on Saturday.

But they may still have to do without Felice.

Under Ministry of Manpower rules, Felice requires at least a Q1 employment pass, because his salary is above $3,300.

His two countrymen at Geylang, Franco Chivilo and Joaquin Lopez - they played against the Warriors - are paid between $2,200 and $3,300 and only require an S-Pass, which they have already obtained.

TNP understands that Felice arrived at the club last month, but the application for his employment pass was only submitted on Feb 15.

It is a situation that has irked Kanan.

"We will have a team ready for the match, but we really need a striker. And I've called the office (yesterday) to push for his pass," he said.

The situation with Geylang's Prime League squad is no better.

After a drawn out selection process and medical requirements, the players will only take their 2.4km test tomorrow, leaving the club with little reaction time before its opening league game on Sunday, especially if players fail to make the mark.

"It is not a good situation," Kanan agonised.

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