Ailing S.League giants Tampines bring three players back from the dead
At the start of the year, three players stared down the barrel as they prepared for an abrupt end to their footballing careers after failing to sign with a S.League club for the 2016 season.
Twelve months on, the trio of Imran Sahib, Firman Hanif and Farhan Rahmat are on the verge of a stunning comeback to join Tampines Rovers as head coach Akbar Nawas formulates a plan to wrestle the league title back from Albirex Niigata (S).
The Stags, with big-name signing Jermaine Pennant in tow, were supposed to win silverware but finished the season where they started — without a trophy in sight. Albirex dominated the season and made it a first-ever quadruple in Singapore’s football history.
Pennant’s contract was not renewed while Billy Mehmet was also allowed to leave the club. The third foreign player Jordan Webb has joined Warriors FC at Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
In their place is forward Louis Clark from Filipino club Kaya FC, and last season’s American Prime League boy Diego Silvas may have done enough to win promotion into the senior team on a permanent basis.
Clark’s most likely attacking partner will be former Hougang United Englishman Liam Shotton, who is training with the Eastern giants for the past week.
As for the local contingent, Akbar is close to pulling off a smart move by bringing back the ‘forgotten men’ of Singapore football.
Imran, a wing-back who made 88 appearances for the Stags, has returned to the club after sitting out a full season, while former Courts Young Lions duo Firman and Farhan are also set to make a comeback from football wilderness to take their rightful spot in the S.League.
Right winger Fazli Ayob who spent last season with Marko Kraljevic’s Balestier Khalsa has also put pen to paper to be part of the Tampines setup. His Tigers teammate Jamil Ali is another player who will return to the yellow of Tampines next season.
Over in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei DPMM are quietly going about their business with Rafael Ramazotti extending his stay. Former Sporting Lisbon youngster Paulo Sergio has been allowed to leave while Tampines striker Mehmet is rumoured to have agreed to join the 2015 league champions.
Sources have also claimed that DPMM have been offered the services of former West Ham United and England striker Carlton Cole. The 33-year-old is currently on the books of Sacramento Republic in the United States.
Photos: Weixiang Lim/FFT