|By Khalis Rifhan
Tampines Rovers have officially unveiled former Hougang United coach Nenad Bacina as its new head coach for the upcoming 2013 S.League campaign.
At a press conference held at Hard Rock Cafe on Friday morning, the defending champions also announced the signing of ex-Racing Club midfielder Martin Wagner on a one-year deal.
Wagner, who started his professional career with Olimpo de Bahia in 2004 in Argentina's Primera Division, is ready to go for the new season and promised to give his all for his new club.
“I come from a country far away from Singapore but am happy to be here and pleased to be with Tampines," he said.
"I felt the support from the management and the players and hope to give my best to achieve good results with the club."
The Stags have also retained the services of Serbian striker Sead Hadzibulic and Croatia goalkeeper Sasa Dreven, while adding two Japanese defenders to their rank.
Yamashita Kunihiro, who played for Albirex Niigata (S) last season, will partner compatriot Seiji Kaneko, who returns to the club after turning out for Indonesian outfit Mitra Kukar last year.
There will be a touch of LionsXII at the Clementi Stadium too, as they have secured the services of four former players from the 2012 Malaysian Super League runners up - Shaiful Esah, Shahdan Sulaiman, Firdaus Kasman and Khairul Amri.
Club chairman Teo Hock Seng was delighted to welcome back his former players to the team and believes their presence and his marquee player will bring about renewed excitement at Clementi.
“Few years ago, we lost a few players to Indonesian clubs and the LionsXII, but now we have them back and we have a balanced squad. We will be playing in the AFC Cup and hopefully we are able to move to the next level," he explained.
“We have to maintain the standard of football and [also] raise the standard of football in Singapore and draw more people to the stadium.”
With the inclusion of the new signings, especially those from the national team, expectations will definitely be high for Bacina, but he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
“As a young coach, it will be a good challenge for me," the Croatin said.
"[Aleksandar] Duric is an experienced player and these people will help me this season as we aim to do well.
"On paper we are a good team, but results on the pitch are all that matter."
This is Bacina’s third adventure with a local club as a head coach, having been at the helm of Woodlands Wellington in 2009, before moving to Hougang United two years later.