Tanjong Pagar unveil marquee signing Monsef Zerka, target mid-table finish

The former Morocco international is set to spearhead the Jaguars attack in the upcoming 2013 S.League season under new coach Patrick Vallee.
By Teng Kiat

Tanjong Pagar United today unveiled former AS Nancy striker Monsef Zerka as their marquee signing for the 2013 S.League season at their pre-season press conference.

The ex-Morocco international, who has three goals in 12 caps for his country, was presented on Wednesday evening at the media room in Queenstown Stadium, alongside new head coach Patrick Vallee.

The 1.83-metre Zerka becomes the fourth new foreigner at the club and brings with him extensive experience in the French leagues, having turned out for Nancy in Ligue 1 and FC Nantes in Ligue 2.

The French-born Zerka was with Nancy from 2001 to 2009, and managed to score 13 goals in 85 top-flight appearances when the club was promoted to Ligue 1 in 2005.

"My first target is to enjoy the training, the games and my friends. For me [I am not a] star player, nothing like that," he said.

"All the players [at the club] want to progress, and I am very happy to see that."

"I am very happy to be at the club. I am looking forward to play with my teammates and I hope to score goals!"

Ex-Etoile FC coach Vallee, who takes over from Terry Pathmanathan, stated his aim to help the club reach “the next level” and promised that supporters would see his style of football.

“My style is to play attractive football,” he proclaimed. “I am happy that I can keep players I want from last year.

“The most important thing is for the fans to enjoy [the football] and to have more fans everywhere.”

Vallee, who coached Etoile to the S.League title and League Cup in their debut season back in 2010, has also previously stated that he has a long-term vision for football development here.

Chairman Edward Liu believes that the appointment of a championship-winning coach in Vallee will aid the club in going forward, with the Frenchman allowed to recruit players who can “produce results”.

“Last year, we finished 12th out of 13 teams. This year, there are only 12 teams and our minimum target is a mid-table finish – 7th or 6th. Of course, we will go for 6th!” he revealed, adding that the club "are ready" for the new season.

“I expect us to do well… [of course] I don’t want to put pressure on the coach. As long as [the players] enjoy themselves, I am sure their boots will do the talking!”

There will be a heavy French influence at the Queenstown-based side, who have already signed goalkeeper Herisson Aurelien, midfielder Kamel Radani and striker Ismael Benahmed to join the retained Anthony Aymard. Former Gombak United centreback Walid Lounis has also signed for the Jaguars, with the Bulls confirmed to be sitting out for the new season.

They also pulled off a coup in landing former Singapore midfielder Ahmad Latiff, who was instrumental in consecutive title-winning campaigns for Tampines Rovers for the past two seasons.

Tanjong Pagar 2013 S.League squad list

           Jersey No.                     Position                 Name    
1 GK Aurelien Herisson
18 GK Shamsudin Hashim
2 DF Anthony Aymard
3 DF Hafiz Osman (C)
4 DF Zulfadhli Emran
5 DF Hanafi Salleh
6 DF Azhar Ahmad
17 DF Walid Lounis (VC)
20 DF Zahid Ahmad
7 MF Asraf Rashid
8 MF Ahmad Latiff
10 MF Kamel Randani
11 MF Hafiz Nor
13 MF Abdul Rahim
14 MF Sazali Salleh
15 MF K. Vikraman
 12 FW Monsef Zerka
19 FW Rizawan Abdullah
9 FW Ismael Benahmed