By Gabriel Tan
The Eagles ended their 2012 season on a positive note last Thursday when they defeated RHB Singapore Cup champions SAFFC 3-0, but the victory was not enough to prevent them from finishing in the bottom three.
However, they did show remarkable improvement after Kanan took over from Mike Wong in March following a humiliating 7-1 loss to Home United, making an inspired run to the final of the League Cup and losing just two of eight league matches after that.
And while the current campaign has only just ended, the Geylang boss reveals preparations for 2013 are already firmly underway and sees no reason why the club cannot rise rapidly up the table.
Having confirmed Jozef Kaplan and Stefan Milojevic will be staying on with the club, he has revealed he is looking add three foreigners to the club but is also keen on continuing his focus on promoting from the youth ranks, having successfully blooded the likes of Amy Recha, Fabian Kwok, Nurhazwan Noraskin and Khairulnizam Jumahat this season.
"The future is definitely bright for Geylang," he told ESPNSTAR.com. "I've already signed six of my Prime League boys on S.League contracts for next season.
"A number of them did well against SAFFC in our last game and proved they are ready for the big time.
"In addition, we have good foreigners in Jozef and Stefan and we are targetting three Japanese players, who will be joining us at the end of the month when their contracts with their current clubs expire.
"They are very excellent players and will add value to the youngsters we are trying to bring through. Together, we should have a young and good team with quality players next year.
"I think making the top three might be a step too far for us but I'm definitely targeting a top-five finish. It will be a big step towards returning to Geylang's glorious era but hard work will definitely be needed if we are to achieve that."
The Eagles were the S.League's first-ever champions after winning the inaugural season in 1996, but have since been crowned champions only once more in 2001.
For a club that was once home to Singapore legends like Fandi Ahmad, Lim Tong Hai and Malek Awab and produced current luminaries such as Baihakki Khaizan and Lionel Lewis, the last couple of seasons have undoubtedly been hard for the Geylang faithful to take.
Nonetheless, Kanan believes the improvement his side displayed in the latter stages of the recently-concluded campaign bodes well for the future.
"Even though our placing was still 11th, I think we had an above average season," he added.
"When I took over, it was very tough as I wanted to change the philosophy of the team. Different coaches have different philosophies and my style is for my team to play good, attacking football.
"It took me three months to gel the team and build the basics but after that, the League Cup came and that's when we started to peak.
"We had a pretty good run and only lost to DPMM in the final but even then, we played well. I remember some of their players like [Ivan] Jerkovic said they were lucky to beat us.
"We lost only two games in the league after that so we were definitely better in the second round."
Apart from the three foreigners, Geylang are also rumoured to be close to adding two more defenders to their squad, one of whom is a current Singapore international.
On paper, Kanan appears to be assembling one of the strongest sides in the league next year but he is expecting the rest of the competition to heavily reinforce as well.
"Tampines will definitely be looking to invest," he opined. "Especially given they'll be looking to make an impact on the continental front.
"SAFFC and Home United also haven't had the best of seasons and I believe they will definitely be beefing up their squads.
"Still, it should make for a competitive, exciting season."
Geylang's last piece of silverware came in 2009 when they beat Bangkok Glass 1-0 courtesy of an 82nd-minute winner from Hafiz Rahim, who is now on the books of Gombak United.