Interviews

Cernak Isaka: Robbie Kruse and Ken Ilso got me to the Singapore League

Home United’s new recruit Cernak Isaka tells Kelvin Leong how Socceroo star Robbie Kruse and Kedah legend Ken Ilso helped make his Singapore Premier League dream come true.

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Home United have signed former Australia U-23 midfielder Isaka Cernak for the remainder of the season, notably for their AFC Cup Zonal Finals.

The 29-year-old went through the Australian youth football system and turned out for the national U-23s and Olyroos before making a name for himself in the A-League with clubs like Brisbane Roar, Melbourne City and Perth Glory.

After nine seasons back home in Australia, Isaka relished a new challenge and was keen on playing in Southeast Asia. His dream came true last year when he joined Thai League club Sisaket where he made 14 appearances and scored one goal.

Despite having a decent campaign in Thailand, Isaka wanted to try his luck across the rest of Southeast Asia and finally got a call from the Protectors to join them for a trial earlier this month.

“I went through junior system in Australia, scouted at 12 or 13, then the national (Australia) stuff and went on to play for the Olyroos, the U-23s and then I signed for Brisbane Roar, followed by Melbourne Victory where I played in the AFC Champions League and got a bit of taste of Asia,” Isaka told Kelvin Leong from FOX Sports Asia.

“This was always something I wanted which is to come and explore this part of the world, play my football here so after nine years in the A-League, I felt the time was right.

“It also helps that I’ve been to Singapore once every month in the last year or so because my girlfriend lives here, so I waited for the transfer window to open and now I’m here to play for Home United.”

While Isaka has earned a contract with the Protectors, he was quick to credit the guys who made this move possible, especially his childhood friend Robbie Kruse, who currently plays in the Bundesliga with VfL Bochum and starred for the Socceroos at the World Cup in Russia.

“Initially, I expressed my interest to a few agents about playing in Southeast Asia. A few ex-players also helped put me in contact with the clubs around Asia,” Isaka explained.

“But it all fell into place because I have a good friend (Ken Ilso) who used to play here and ended up giving me the contacts to reach out.

“Ken played in Germany with one of the guys I grew up with, Robbie Kruse, and when he moved to Malaysia, he started playing with my ex-roommate (Zac Anderson) from Central Coast Mariners so that was a very good way to get into this part of the world.

“Connections definitely helped and I can’t wait to get started and return the faith shown in me by Home and the coaches.”

Isaka will replace Sirina Camara – who suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury – to be one of two foreign imports for Home, together with South Korean attacking midfielder Song Ui-young.

Having played in the AFC Champions League before, Isaka will now have the opportunity to be a winner should he be selected to play in the AFC Cup Zonal Finals against Ceres Negros next month.