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Singapore international Anders Aplin looking to lead Geylang into AFC Cup

FOX Sports 2018-04-13 07:53:36

In what has been the best year of his football career, Singapore and Geylang International defender Anders Aplin is looking to go one better.

Anders Aplin was part of the Singapore Sports School team comprising Safuwan Baharudin and Madhu Mohana but while his former schoolmates went on to become household names in Singapore football, Anders decided to focus on his studies as he went on to Nanyang Technological University for a degree in business administration.

After spending much of his time playing in the now defunct National Football League and University team, Anders Aplin finally got his breakthrough in 2016 when Geylang International took a chance on the 26-year-old.

“There was some envy and admiration for my batch mates (like Safuwan and Madhu) who were doing very well in football,” Anders told FOX Sports Asia.

“But I decided that getting an education and finishing my army commitments were equally important. I still hold very fond memories of my time in national service as a Commando and almost signed on to become a regular.

“It is not like I considered walking away from football. Just like every football-mad kid in Singapore, I loved playing the game and felt content just being able to play in the NFL or for my university team. But once I got a chance to play in the S.League, there was no turning back.”

After joining Geylang, Anders still had to bid his time to cement a spot in the starting line-up. But his hard work finally paid off when he became a regular in the throughout the 2017 campaign.

He grew from strength to strength, with his versatility across defence along with a no-nonsense approach on the pitch earning a trial with J.2 side Matsumoto Yamaga in January. This was followed up with his first two international appearances for Singapore in March against Maldives and Chinese Taipei.

Having had a taste of football at the international level, Anders is determined to retain his spot in the national squad and knows he has much to improve on as he set sights on making the Singapore team for the biennial AFF Suzuki Cup.

“The biggest difference was the pace and intensity at the international level,” Anders added. “Perhaps it’s partly due to the pressure of representing your country but I think the international game requires higher fitness levels and focus.

“I don’t want to put a target on this but the aim is to don the Singapore jersey again and to do this, I need to show up in every game for Geylang.”

Helping his cause at club level are new recruits Azhar Sairudin and Fumiya Kogure whom signed for the Eagles in the off-season. Together with a slew of youngsters, Geylang are hoping it’ll be enough to be in the top half of the Singapore Premier League standings along with a push for an AFC Cup spot having come close in the last two campaigns.

He said: “Fumiya and Azhar have come into the squad and they’ve brought with them loads of experience and a different style of play. They will be key to us having a good season as the youngsters have someone to look up to and learn a thing or two.

“Also, it’s good to see young players like Ryan [Syaffiq] putting in the hard work and fighting for a spot. I was very happy to see him score his first goal for us against Warriors.

“We came agonizingly close to qualifying for the AFC Cup in the past two seasons so that’s something we’re working towards.”