Star Man – Ken Ilso, Home United

Former German Bundesliga forward Ken Ilso had other tempting offers but chose to stay with Home United for another year to “take advantage of the seeds” which he has been planting.

Ilso impressed for Home in 2015, scoring 13 goals in all competitions – a tally which could have been better had he not missed three months of action midway through the season due to injury.

“Personally my injuries took longer than expected to recover from, but I was happy that I came back to play a part towards the end,” he told FourFourTwo.

“It was a somewhat rough season but a positive one. We had a new setup and a new way of doing things, so it took some getting used to; we had to know each other better and know how to find each other in front of goal.

“Eventually our team played very well towards the middle of the season till the end and played very good football. The style that coach Philippe (Aw) had been preaching in was starting to work.”

Boasting a CV playing in Germany with Fortuna Dusseldorf and VfL Bochum, Ilso naturally attracted interest from overseas in the off-season. However, the 29-year-old Dane opted to remain at Home to complete unfinished business.

“Yeah, I had other offers and I took some time to make up my mind,” he revealed. “But it was simply the project we have at Home United which is too attractive. It feels like I still have something left undone here.

“Last year we were still planting the seeds and I want to be part of the group that will take advantage of those growing seeds.”

While Home have strengthened in the form of signings like Zulfahmi Arifin, Faris Ramli and Irfan Fandi, the core of last season’s squad is still around, including key players like Jum’at Jantan, Abdil Qaiyyim and Azhar Sairudin.

Retaining a lot of players is important for everyone. I always believe that is the main factor that wins you championships.

Coach Aw’s emphasis on continuity is one of the key reasons that persuaded the ambitious Ilso to stay.

“It’s exactly that continuity that I’m talking about,” he reiterated. “That’s one of the main reasons why we had such a good run of form in the middle of last season.

“We started getting that in the things which we’re doing because we got to know each other better. Retaining a lot of players is important for everyone, including the coach and the board.

“I always believe that is the main factor that wins you championships. I’m looking forward to link up with Azhar again because we linked up really well last year.

While Ilso is targeting to score more goals this year and win the S.League title, the former Danish Under-21 player is also hoping to set a role model for the youngsters at the Bishan-based club.

With Noh Rahman moving to Tampines Rovers, Ilso is now one of the most senior players along with captain Juma’at Jantan and Azhar.

“For sure, I’ll be trying to lead by example,” he concluded. “There’re quite a number of young players here this season and I need to be the man to take some pressure off them and guide them when the time comes.

“I’m always trying to improve myself so I definitely want to hit the net more often this year – that’s what I’m here for.

‘Of course I’m fancying a league title; it’s not going to be easy with many teams boosted by the presence of LionsXII players, but the continuity in our team will help us in the long run.”

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