Die-hard Home United supporter Daniel Lau is pleased that key frontman Ken Ilso has stayed for another season as the club attempts to wrestle back the S.League title it last won back in 2003.
Former German Bundesliga forward Ilso had other attractive offers, but opted to stay at Home for another year with the aim of completing some unfinished business.
In total, Home retained 12 players from last season – a direction which makes Lau understandably pleased.
“I'm glad that we retained the bulk of our squad this season,” he told FourFourTwo. “I am very grateful for the players who were offered a much better deal elsewhere but still turned them down, because they believe in Home United and they want to be a part of our vision to take Singapore football forward.
“I even heard that Ilso rejected a move to a Thai Premier League club despite the humongous pay rise offered to him.
“We need such players and their belief in our system is crucial for a successful campaign. For that, I can't be more optimistic of our chances this upcoming season.”
Lau, 22, has been supporting Home for the last 13 years and he is almost synonymous with the club, with most players and officials knowing him by name.
The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) second-year student was first wooed by the attractive football under former coach Steve Darby.
Mendy singled me out after the 2011 Singapore Cup win and presented his match-winning jersey to me as a souvenir.
“I live in Bishan, which is the home of the Protectors, so it was convenient to head there just to catch the team in action,” he recalled. “But what drew my interest at that time was the players we had at our disposal which delivered entertaining football.
“We had Egmar (Goncalves), Indra (Sahdan), Peres (de Oliveira), J Surachai, Sutee (Suksomkit); so many players that injected quality onto the pitch. It wasn't long before attending matches became a weekly affair.
“My best memory supporting the club has to be witnessing them win the 2011 Singapore Cup. The scorers were locked at 0-0 till the 118th minute when Frederic Mendy notched the winner to bring home the Cup.
“What made it really memorable was when Mendy singled me out after the match and presented his match-winning jersey to me as a souvenir in front of the fans. That was truly one of my proudest moments as a Home United fan, to be recognised by the Cup-winning goal scorer.”
Despite not winning any silverware in 2015, Lau was pleased that his beloved side managed to display an attractive brand of football.
“I cannot deny that our position (sixth) in the league is a disappointment,” he said. “But we soldiered on throughout the season with numerous injuries, especially with Ilso out for many months.
“We still managed to go on a good run in the Singapore Cup and were unfortunate to lose in the final.”
The Home class of 2016 will sport a distinctly youthful look, with the likes of Faris Ramli, Sufianto Salleh, R Aaravin and the two Fandi brothers, Irfan and Ikhsan.
Thus Lau is cautious about any title talk this coming season.
“It’ll be tough as our young squad is still working hard to compete with the much seasoned campaigners at the other clubs,” he explained.
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