Pennant or Ramazotti, Geylang will play our own game - Al-Qaasimy
Right-back Al-Qaasimy Rahman is adamant Geylang International have the pedigree to mix it up with the S.League big boys after making his debut for club in the 3-3 draw against Tampines Rovers on Monday night.
In a see-saw match which saw both teams exchanging leads, Tampines finished with nine men. Geylang had the perfect opportunity to steal all three points after Stanley Ng put them 3-2 up in the 79th minute, only for a Yasir Hanapi equaliser four minutes from time ensuring both sides had a share the spoils.
"We did what we could but Yasir's goal was an unexpected beauty," he told ESPN FC. "No one saw that coming and I choose to see it as a point gained having gone 2-0 down in the first half.
"This Tampines team are not just about Jermaine Pennant. Players like Shahdan [Sulaiman], Izzdin [Shafiq] and [Billy] Mehmet are just some of the many names that could hurt you during the 90 minutes.
"One player I paid special attention to was my former Young Lions teammate Jordan Webb. He is one of those players who can create something out of nothing and it showed when he scored the first goal.
"Geylang did what we could and I think it was a good opening game for us. We have to take the positives and use the experience as we head into the rest of the season."
Having spent the second half of 2015 as a bit-part player for the LionsXII, Al-Qaasimy is relieved to be back in the starting lineup and is already calling his Geylang teammates his "new family and brothers in arms."
The tough-tackling defender is determined to help Geylang back to their glory days, where they won the S.League in 1996 and 2001.
"This has been the longest and most anticipated wait thus far. Never have I been so excited to kick my first ball for a club. Preseason has been great with this amazing set of players I know call family. It's not about just sticking together as a team but to be a family," he added.
"The positive turnout for Geylang fans along with the Tampines fans -- 2,930 spectactors showed up at Jurong West -- just goes to show that the S.League is attracting good interest this season but we have to keep going out there and pushing ourselves to bring them back with our play on the pitch and outreach off it."
With one point on the board, Geylang will now prepare for their first home game on Saturday against league champions Brunei DPMM, who lost 3-2 in the Charity Shield to Albirex Niigata (S).
Steve Kean's charges looked out of sorts but the attacking trident of Azwan Ali, Paulo Sergio and last season's golden boot winner Rafael Ramazotti was still the biggest weaponry for the Bruneian outfit.
Having dealt with Mehmet and Pennant in his first game, Al-Qaasimy is indifferent about the prospect of coming up against Ramazotti or any other striker in the S.League this season.
He said: "We saw DPMM's game against Albirex in the Charity Shield. They are another quality side and the way they fought till the end despite going 3-0 down, that is something we have to be very careful about.
"We have to stay focused for 90 minutes and execute our own game plan according to coach Hasrin [Jailani]. As for myself, whether it is Pennant, Ramazotti or even Patrice Evra, my philosophy will stay the same. Always go hard or go home."