Football: Bennett joins Stags party

Defender Daniel Bennett in Geylang International colours last year. Next season, he will play for five-time S-League champions Tampines Rovers.
Defender Daniel Bennett in Geylang International colours last year. Next season, he will play for five-time S-League champions Tampines Rovers.PHOTO: S-LEAGUE

Defender, 39, wants to help Tampines win silverware again but other Lions in limbo

Daniel Bennett was one of the few players to emerge from Singapore's dismal Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup campaign with their reputation enhanced. And the evergreen defender has been rewarded with a move to Tampines Rovers, taking his S-League career into a 19th season.

The 39-year-old free agent signed for the five-time league champions yesterday, the club announced on its Twitter account.

He told The Straits Times: "Tampines have always been one of the league's top clubs. They have a lot of quality and experienced national players and were unlucky not to win anything last year.

"I hope to be part of a squad that can achieve something really good this season."

ROVING AROUND

I was disappointed to leave Geylang but football is about change... I'd say things worked out well for me.

DANIEL BENNETT , S-League veteran, on not getting a new deal with former club Geylang International.

Bennett impressed with his assured displays at the AFF Cup, marshalling the back-line superbly with his excellent reading of the game even as the Lions crashed out in the group stage without a win.

He hopes to bring depth and experience to the Stags, who finished empty-handed last season despite boasting former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant.

The Stags were league runners-up last season but have moved to bolster their ranks.

National striker Khairul Amri, 31, Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi, 23, and former Croatia Under-17 captain Ivan Dzoni, 22, have joined the club for the new campaign.

A seasoned international with 132 Singapore caps, Bennett will also renew his central defensive partnership with national team-mate Madhu Mohana at club level. Madhu signed for the Stags last month after leaving Warriors FC.

  • SINGAPORE'S 2016 AFF CUP TEAM - WHERE THEY WILL PLAY THIS YEAR

  • GOALKEEPERS

    • Hassan Sunny (Home United)

    • Izwan Mahbud (Tampines Rovers)

    • Syazwan Buhari (Geylang International)


    DEFENDERS

    • Afiq Yunos (Home)

    • Faritz Hameed (Geylang)

    • Hafiz Sujad (Big Bang Chula United, Thailand)

    • Madhu Mohana, Shakir Hamzah, Fahrudin Mustafic & Daniel Bennett (Tampines)

    • Baihakki Khaizan (unattached)


    MIDFIELDERS

    • M. Anumanthan (Hougang)

    • Hariss Harun (Johor Darul Takzim)

    • Faris Ramli, Izzdin Shafiq (Home)

    • Safuwan Baharudin (PDRM FA, Malaysia)

    • Yasir Hanapi & Shahdan Sulaiman (Tampines)

    • Gabriel Quak (Geylang)

    • Shahril Ishak (unattached)


    FORWARDS

    • Khairul Amri (Tampines)

    • Shahfiq Ghani (Geylang)

    • Sahil Suhaimi (unattached)

Even though Bennett left S-League club Geylang International after starring for them last season, he insisted that retirement never crossed his mind.

"Being back in the national team, I wanted to be part of that. For as long as I'm given the chance, I will continue to try to play," said the 1.84m-tall player, who had two spells with Welsh club Wrexham from 2001 to 2003.

"I was disappointed to leave Geylang but football is about change. You'll get used to it. I'd say things worked out well for me."

While he is set to prolong his career, three Lions from last year's AFF Cup squad have yet to resolve their futures. National captain Shahril Ishak, 32, veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan, 32, and striker Sahil Suhaimi, 24, are still without a club ahead of the new season.

Shahril and Baihakki are believed to be in talks with the Warriors while Sahil could head to Thailand for trials.

Attacker Shahril is hopeful his future will be resolved soon. While he is tight-lipped about his destination, he said: "Retirement's not on my mind. I still want to play football and I feel I can play for three more years."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2017, with the headline 'Bennett joins Stags party'. Print Edition | Subscribe