Former Tampines Rovers head coach Akbar Nawas has landed a dream assignment in charge of Philippines club Global-Cebu, just a month after a short-term gig as technical consultant.
And one of the 41-year-old's first duties is to knock out Geylang International from the Singapore Cup, with Global facing the S.League outfit in the preliminary round of the domestic competition at Jalan Besar on Tuesday night.
The 2017 Singapore Cup has invited two teams from Philippines, and two from Cambodia.
Akbar helped Global in their two-legged AFC Cup semifinal against Home United last month, and now he will focus on Geylang, managed by interim boss Noor Ali.
"Being a Singaporean [managing against Singaporean sides] it does feel a bit different, but football is a professional game," Akbar said.
"But with Global, your heart is with Global, even though you're a Singaporean. Like the Singapore Cup or the AFC Cup games, we just want to go out there and do the best for Global so maybe I'm a Filipino now!"
Akbar was offered the job after impressing Global CEO Dan Palami during his month as a technical consultant, taking over from interim boss Marjo Allado.
"After the Home United games, and during the international break, I had sessions with them," Akbar explained. "After talking to the owner, he wanted me to take over the team, and be the head coach of Global.
"I just started to take over the players in terms of training. I'm looking at how can we play better, how can we organise ourselves better, and, of course, how to win games. But one of the immediate priorities is for us to play better, and play the football we want to play."
Akbar says he feels no bitterness towards Tampines Rovers after abruptly leaving the club at the end of January after the Singapore giants lost an AFC Champions League qualifier -- against Global. Germany's Jurgen Raab took over the Stags in February.
"It was mutually agreed. Like they always say, one door closes, seven doors open," Akbar said.
"It's a blessing for me. I feel very grateful my current owner Mr. Palami for having faith in me. The one month was to see how both of us are working with each other. I guess he's happy with the way I took things in training, and I'm also happy with the way he is as an owner. He's a fantastic owner."
Akbar took over at Tampines Rovers in the middle of last season after V. Sundramoorthy moved to take the Singapore national team job. Under Akbar, the Stags finished second in the 2016 S.League and made the final of the 2016 Singapore Cup, losing to Albirex Niigata (S), who completed an unprecedented trophy quadruple.
Global are third in the Philippines Football League standings, behind Meralco Sparks and JPV Marikina.