Kaplan and Pasfield to bolster Tampines title push

The Slovakian midfielder, a former hit in the S.League with Geylang International, will join the defending champions along with the Australian goalkeeper as they chase Brunei DPMM
The S.League will welcome a familiar face back in Jozef Kaplan, who will don the colours of Tampines Rovers colours for the rest of the season.

Recently released by Malaysia Premier League side Negeri Sembilan, Kaplan has signed on for the defending champions along with Australian goalkeeper Justin Pasfield, who is a free agent after his contract with A-League side Central Coast Mariners at the end of the recent campaign.

Kaplan, 28, arrived in Singapore with Geylang International (then United) in 2012 and racked up 17 goals in his debut season to be the team's top scorer. Made skipper for the following season, he added another 21 goals before leaving to join former LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy across the Causeway.

With the Slovakian's proven track record in the S.League, Tampines coach Rafi Ali is hopeful that Kaplan can "add more spice" to his side.

"He’s working hard so hopefully he can gel with the players," he told Goal Singapore. “He’s fast, has the desire to win and is a fighter... he has all the ingredients for a successful player. He’s started training with us for about a week and he’s blending in well with the players as he knows most of them [already]."

Meanwhile, former Australian Under-23 international Pasfield will be the replacement for injured first-choice custodian Hyrulnizam Juma'at, who is set to sit out the rest of the season after surgery for a back injury. The 28-year-old is awaiting to pass the requisite fitness and medical tests, and Rafi is confident the stopper will be a capable reinforcement.

"We were looking for a goalkeeper and he was recommended to us," he said. “We've monitored him for some time and... he’s been training well for us.”

The former Singapore midfielder added that no decision has been made on which of the club's current foreigners will make way, although it is understood Norihiro Kawakami and Roberto Martinez are the likely duo. The club are also looking at New Zealand midfielder Jake Butler as a possible addition.

Rafi was handed the job on a permanent basis last week after taking over on as interim coach when the club parted ways with Salim Moin at the end of April due to poor results.

The 41-year-old oversaw three draws in a row before notching his first win last week against the Courts Young Lions, which was followed by a penalty shoot-out triumph over Harimau Muda B on Thursday night in the Singapore Cup.

Tampines are looking to capture a fourth consecutive S.League crown, as they currently lie third with 13 out of 26 games played, and Rafi is confident his charges will get better once the team starts to gel.

"I have fighters in my team, that’s a positive thing and I can see all of them are working really hard to get into shape," he asserted. "Everybody wants to play, which is really good and I am happy with all the players’ commitment and attitude.

“If you are the coach and you are six points behind, don’t you think that you will be going for the title?

"There’s quite a long way to go and I've told my boys not to worry about what other people are doing; we just have to worry about our team and we have to improve every single game and to get the points."

Tampines will next face Geylang on June 6, with their new signings potentially set to make their debut with the transfer window opening on June 2.