Home's new coach downplays boss' target of three trophies
His boss was bullish, boldly targeting a treble - the Great Eastern Yeo's-S.League title, the RHB Singapore Cup and StarHub League Cup - for the upcoming season.
Already thrust under the microscope after a surprise promotion, Home United's new coach Philippe Aw would probably never have felt this kind pressure.
He may have led Home's Prime League side to the championship last year after the juniors went through the whole campaign unbeaten, but this time, he'll be mixing it up with the big boys, with the club's chief executive Azrulnizam Shah believing a sweep of honours is possible.
Aw chose to downplay the targets when he spoke to The New Paper yesterday.
"Realistically, we're looking to mainly challenge on these three fronts. There are no guarantees, of course, but if there is one thing that we as a team can be sure of, it is that we will work hard," he said, on the sidelines of the team's pre-season press conference at Raintr33 Hotel yesterday.
"I believe that football is a team sport, and it is always down to the effort of the team to ensure results on the pitch.
"If we do that, we stand a very good chance."
The 37-year-old only made the step up to the senior team last December, replacing South Korea's Lee Lim Saeng after six years with the club's Prime League side and the Centre of Excellence.
Home's first game of the S.League season will be a visit to Geylang International's Bedok Stadium on March 3.
Home are one of the giants of the local game, with two-time S.League titles (1999, 2003) and a record six Singapore Cup wins (2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2013) under their belt.
But they ended last season without any silverware, after losing to Balestier Khalsa in the RHB Singapore Cup final.
Speaking candidly about the pressure of guiding a big club, Aw said: "The pressure has been huge from day one.
"But after spending time with the team, it has got better.
"Some of the other players also worked with me when they were younger, so they understand how I work
"The pressure has slowly subsided, and a win against Geylang will make sure of that."
Drawing comparisons with his more illustrious contemporaries such as last season's title-winning Alex Weaver of Warriors FC, Steve Kean of Brunei DPMM and V. Sundramoorthy of Tampines Rovers, Aw admitted he does not have their experience.
But he feels that he has what it takes to do well, while also pointing out that the 2015 season is a transitional period for himself.
"I'm a young coach. In terms of experience, I don't have much," said Aw.
"But I feel I am prepared for the task ahead, because I've come up from the youth system and I know what it takes to lead and manage.
"But, more than that, this is an opportunity for me to learn on the job as well, and also to become a better coach.
"Whether I do well here or not, this experience will definitely help me in my career."
"My teammates have set me a target of 20 goals, but I won’t make such promises. I’m going to go into every game looking to score and we’ll see how many I get."
- New Home United signing Ken Ilso
Ilso set to light up S.League
He has played in the top flight in countries like Holland, Denmark and Germany.
Most recently, he helped Guangzhou R&F to third place in the 2014 Chinese Super League, scoring twice in 10 appearances.
Now, former Fortuna Dusseldorf and Denmark Under-21 striker Ken Ilso is set to haunt opposing defenders in the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League in the colours of Home United.
Wearing the club's No. 9 jersey, Ilso, 28, has high hopes for his Singapore sojourn.
Speaking to The New Paper, the 1.83m-tall attacker, who played for Fortuna in the Bundesliga in the 2012/13 season, said: "I'm very excited to be here. I left Guangzhou after letting my contract run down because I wanted a new adventure.
"I got an offer from Home after a few months and I took it up right away.
"My teammates have set me a target of 20 goals, but I won't make such promises.
"I'm going to go into every game looking to score and we'll see how many I get."
Home head coach Philippe Aw hopes Ilso's impact will run deeper than simply through his on-pitch exploits.
"He's someone who has played in the big leagues in Europe, particularly in Germany, so his experience is going to be vital to us.
"More than just a good player who bangs in the goals, I want him to set a good example to the other players and show them what it takes to be a true professional."
Four other players make up Home's foreign stable.
The club signed midfielders Ambroise Begue, from French Ligue 2 side AS Nancy's reserve team, and Kamel Ramdani, formerly of Tanjong Pagar, who are sitting out the 2015 season due to financial issues.
Completing the foreign contingent are South Korean Song In Young and Frenchman Sirina Camara, whom the club have re-signed.