Singapore Premier League • September 13, 2014
Kaplan Grateful For Tampines Opportunity
Written by: Phoon Jia Hui
Leaving Geylang International at the end of the 2013 Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League season, Jozef Kaplan went on to sign for Malaysian Premier League side Negeri Sembilan FA led by ex-international V. Sundramoorthy.
But Kaplan’s stint across the Causeway was cut short as he was released by Negeri after just six months, and that left him stranded.
Then, defending S.League champions Tampines Rovers came calling during the mid-season transfer window and he jumped at the opportunity to return to play in Singapore’s only professional football league.
And it has been so far so good for the Slovakian midfielder who scored 30 goals in 48 games for Geylang from 2012 to 2013.
“I feel very good,” Kaplan told Sleague.com.
“First, I want to appreciate Tampines for giving me the chance to play again in the S.League after six months with Negeri and I hope end of the day we will win some trophy.”
Tampines coach Rafi Ali has been encouraged from what he has seen from Kaplan since playing his first game for the club in June.
“He’s a very hardworking player and a good professional,” Rafi said.
“Maybe it’s a new thing for him because before it was a one-man show, pass the ball to Kaplan on the wing and he goes on. But at Tampines our football is slightly different and he’s adjusted well.
“I think he hasn’t been scoring for quite a while but once he starts to get a goal or two then I think he will back to his best. My job is to make sure I get him to the correct positions where he can score goals.”
The parting with Negeri was an amicable one according to Kaplan.
“It was nice. I actually was happy there, my family too. The football side also very good there,” the former Geylang skipper shared.
“I played 13 games there, started 11 and scored some goals. I have very good friendship with the Ultras and suddenly I had to go, I had no choice and I had to accept [that fact]. But I’m not angry with them or anything. I was okay with them, from the staff to the players to the fans. We finished nicely.”
The Stags are currently still in the running for the S.League title as they sit fourth on 39 points, seven points behind leaders Brunei DPMM heading into the final five games of the season.
Challenging for the league title is something new to Kaplan and while he admitted it will be ‘a little difficult’ for them to retain the title, he is adamant that they will not throw in the towel as yet.
“I have not fought for title or champion before, for the cup yes, for the [league] title no, so this is the first time in my career fighting for championship. It’s not the end yet, the season is not over yet and we will fight till the last game,” he said.
But he reckons everything was in the hands of DPMM, too.
“Chances is hard to say and it also depends on how DPMM are playing,” he added.
“They [DPMM] also have some national games in October, they play some qualifying games for Suzuki Cup. So everything depends on DPMM because if they win three or four games they are champions but I think everybody in the top six can still be champions in the last five games.
“Anything can happen. Even Warriors FC are five points behind DPMM, we are seven points which is a lot but we still have a chance.“Everybody including Home and Albirex also have the chance and Balestier now are also in the top six so now this is a good example that anything can happen in the S.League.”