Singapore Premier League • June 8, 2014

Tampines Paraded New Foreign Trio Against Eagles


Written by: Khalis Rifhan

In a bid to maintain their hopes of retaining the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League title, reigning champions Tampines Rovers made several changes to its foreign legion, as they signed three new players – Jozef Kaplan, New Zealand international Jake Butler and Australian goalkeeper Justin Pasfield.

The trio made their debut in the Stags’ 1-0 loss to Geylang International on Friday evening at Jalan Besar Stadium. Despite the defeat, the new players had no problem finding their feet with their new teammates.

The most notable of the three is Kaplan, former Geylang International captain. Kaplan spent two years at Bedok Stadium before making the move to Malaysian Premier League club Negeri Sembilan at the start of the season.

“I know Tampines always want to win title. I don’t think it is a pressure but more of a challenge. After playing in Malaysia, I know what is pressure,” said Kaplan who played under ex-LionsXII coach V.Sundramoorthy in Malaysia.

With regular custodian Hyrulnizam Juma’at out for the foreseeable future after undergoing a surgery to remove a lump on his back, the Stags wasted no time in finding a replacement and  zeroed in on former Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Pasfield.

“This move comes up pretty quickly. I was in talks with a few A-League clubs but I decided that for myself and where I am at my career, I want to try myself in a different league,” explained the former Australian Under-23 international.

“Asia is a strong league at the moment, so it is good to come here and test myself against different oppositions, climate,” added Pasfield who became Tampines’ fourth foreign goalkeeper in the club’s history, with the first being Kyrgyzstan international Zakir Jalilov in 2001.

Pulling the strings for Tampines in the middle of the park will be former Waitakere United captain Butler, who describes himself as an old-school tough tackling holding midfielder.

“I hope to bring experience and get the team going forward through passing, well that’s what the coach is looking for and I that is what I will try to do,” said the All Whites international.

Butler, who spent his entire professional career with Waitakere, knows the expectations of the club that has won five league titles, with three of those coming consecutively from 2011

“It is something (pressure) I am used to,” commented Butler who followed in the footsteps of New Zealander Chris Jackson who donned the Tampines’ jersey in 1998.

“Back home I am the captain of my team and we won the league four years in a row. There is a lot of pressure on you when you have to win.

“Obviously it is a bit different being a foreigner. But any pressure is a good pressure for me and will make me a better player.”

Tampines next league match will be against league leaders Brunei DPMM on 10 June at Clementi Stadium. The Stags are currently in fourth spot on 25 points, six points behind DPMM.