Albirex chairman sceptical about Pennant move

Daisuke Korenaga is not entirely convinced by the impact Jermaine Pennant will have on Tampines Rovers, and backs his club to challenge the S.League title favourites all the way for silverware.

It had been announced on Thursday that former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Pennant will sign for Tampines for the upcoming season, in which the 32-year-old will be the club and S.League’s highest paid player in history.

The former England Under-21 player had been on trial at the club since last Thursday and set up Shakir Hamzah's goal with an assist after he came on as a substitute during Tampines’ recent friendly against Hougang United.

However, Albirex chairman Korenaga has been quick to play down the impact and hype circulating around their rivals' signing, but still acknowledged that the move is great from a publicity standpoint for the S-League.

“Last time he was a good player, I don’t know about now. He used to be a good dribbler and had great speed,” said Korenaga.

"Attendance is very important for the league and this (Pennant’s arrival at Tampines) is good news.

"We (Albirex) have the highest average attendance in the S.League and Pennant can help increase the overall attendance even more.”

Albirex enjoyed their most successful season in the league since their inception in 2004, winning the Singapore League Cup and the RHB Singapore Cup.

The taste of success has spurred on Korenaga even more as he seeks more glory this season, even though the 2015 S.League’s Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure has left the club alongside Shun Inaba, Takahiro Saito and coach Tatsuya Okuyama.

Yet the club official was beaming with confidence when asked how many titles the team will target this year, with Naoki Naruo returning to take the helm after leaving in 2009 to coach in Japan.

“We want all four titles (The title, both cups and the Charity Shield)," he concluded. "Every year we come very near to titles, even though almost all the players change (each season)."