Football: New Stag Pennant not bothered about pressure as he becomes S-League's biggest star

Jermaine Pennant is presented with his Tampines Rovers jersey by club advisor Teo Hock Seng at Komoco Motors on Jan 19.
Jermaine Pennant is presented with his Tampines Rovers jersey by club advisor Teo Hock Seng at Komoco Motors on Jan 19. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Jermaine Pennant is presented with his Tampines Rovers jersey by club advisor Teo Hock Seng at Komoco Motors on Jan 19.
Jermaine Pennant is presented with his Tampines Rovers jersey by club advisor Teo Hock Seng at Komoco Motors on Jan 19. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
The Tampines Rovers team is presented at Komoco Motors on Jan 19.
The Tampines Rovers team is presented at Komoco Motors on Jan 19. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Tampines Rovers finished last season empty-handed, but coach V. Sundramoorthy is determined to ensure there will not be a repeat this year.

 

The Stags are stocked with talent this year, signing nine former LionsXII players including star national goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, midfielder Izzdin Shafiq and exciting winger Christopher van Huizen.

More importantly, they bagged the biggest signing in the S-League's history, as they unveiled former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant at a signing ceremony on Tuesday morning at a packed media conference at Komoco Motors with some 40 members of the media.

Sundram, who won the Malaysian Super League title with the LionsXII in 2013, said: "On paper... This is one the strongest squads I've ever handled. Obviously, we want to win trophies, but the brand of football is also important and we want to excite fans and win games in style."

There are three domestic titles on offer - the S-League, the Singapore Cup, and the League Cup.

The Stags are also in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League first qualifying round, where they are up against India's Mohun Bagan. Elimination would see them drop to the second-tier AFC Cup. 

Echoing his coach's sentiments, Pennant, who is on a reported one-year deal worth $40,000 a month excluding add-ons, said: "I feel a lot more pressure now (sitting in front of a packed room) than I did last week, but I have dealt with pressure my whole career.

"Hopefully it can all go well for myself (and) Tampines and we win a lot of trophies."

Former stars in the S-League include Iran's World Cup stars Mohammad Khakpour and Hamid Reza Estili, ex-Sweden international Niklas Sandberg and Tottenham Hotspurs' Japanese midfielder Kazuyuki Toda. But Pennant, who played in the 2007 Champions League final for Liverpool, arrives in the S-League as its biggest star yet.

The 33-year-old, who had a string of supercars back in Britain, was all smiles as he received the keys to his sporty Hyundai Veloster from retired Tampines striker, Noh Alam Shah, who now works in the car rental division of Komoco.

And egged on by former Stags chairman Teo Hock Seng, Pennant even revealed that he had learned a Singlish phrase commonly heard at football matches in Singapore - Referee kayu.

Tampines kick off their 2016 campaign against Mohun Bagan in the AFC Champions League play-off on Jan 27.