Football: Tampines Rovers' new signing Zehrudin Mehmedovic proving to be an instant hit

Tampines Rovers’ Zehrudin Mehmedovic warms up before a team training session.
Tampines Rovers’ Zehrudin Mehmedovic warms up before a team training session.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - In the short span of two and a half months and two games, Zehrudin Mehmedovic has proved that he could turn out to be an astute signing and key player for Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) this season.

Despite the language barrier, the 20-year-old attacking midfielder has settled down well with the Stags, scoring two goals in their last two games against Yangon United (3-1 win in the AFC Cup Group F opener) and Hougang United (5-1 win in SPL opener) last week.

"I'm very pleased that I played a part in helping the team win. We played two strong teams so I feel proud that I played a part in the two victories," said the Serb, who can speak only basic English.

Mehmedovic was brought in by Tampines' assistant coach Fahrudin Mustafic, who said: "He's a young player, but he's very creative. These days, there aren't many No. 10 players who can give you quality final passes and can receive the ball around the box and score.

"So he adds that extra quality and he's doing well so far. It's a huge step for him to come to a foreign country, but he has been training hard and showing signs of improvement."

While Mustafic acknowledged that the young player still has a long way to go, he believes that if Mehmedovic continues to work hard, he can stamp his mark on the SPL.

Setting his sights on a trophy this season, the youngster said: "I came here to win something with Tampines."

After two wins, the Stags hope to continue their good start to the season with another victory against local rivals Home United at Our Tampines Hub on Friday (March 8).

The Protectors won the Community Shield on Feb 23 after beating SPL defending champions Albirex Niigata in a penalty shoot-out, but lost 1-0 to Brunei DPMM in their first league game last week.

"I think the fans can expect a good exciting game as both teams play attacking and entertaining football," said Mustafic.

Home will miss their influential South Korean midfielder Song Ui-young, who scored 20 goals for the Protectors last season but is sidelined with a groin injury.

Home coach Saswadimata Dasuki said: "Song is a good attacker and we are missing his creativity and ability to bang the goals in. But we still have players we can rotate and experiment with to adapt to his absence.

"Tampines have started the season well and scored goals from different sources, but that doesn't mean we will sit back. We will still be going for the three points with our own style," he said.