STAR ATTRACTION: Former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant (in yellow) posing with one of many fans, who turned up yesterday to watch the former Arsenal and Liverpool winger strut his stuff for Tampines against Hougang.

Pennant draws the crowds at Tampines friendly

Stags triallist plays one half, but it was enough to excite fans, impress coach Sundram

CLUB FRIENDLY

HOUGANG UNITED 0

TAMPINES ROVERS 2

(Fazrul Nawaz 34, Shakir Hamzah 73)

The stands at Jalan Besar Stadium started filling well before kick-off.

And by the time Jermaine Pennant took to the pitch in the second half of Tampines Rovers' friendly with Hougang United last night, more than 1,200 football fans had come to catch him, and the action.

That's more than what the average S.League game manages to pull.

Former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Pennant arrived in Singapore on Thursday and is currently on trial with Tampines, hoping to earn a contract.

He did his chances good last night.

Apart from drawing fans to the stadium, the former England Under-21 international also had a hand in the Stags' second goal in the 2-0 win, crossing for Shakir Hamzah to acrobatically finish home.

Pennant's presence in the second half also drew some life from those in attendance.

Tampines fans whooped in delight every time he played a good pass or went on a dribble, while Hougang's vocal support sarcastically chanted "Who are ya?" and "Welcome to Singapore" each time he fumbled or was tackled.

"I'm definitely happy we got the win," said a beaming Pennant, who turns 33 on Friday.

"The artificial pitch here makes it a little bit difficult to run with the ball, because it bobbles a lot.

"But I'm sure the more we play as a team and on grass especially, we'll be a lot more dangerous going forward."

When asked what he thought of the strong turnout for just a pre-season friendly, Pennant said: "It's great, and that's what I'm here to do.

"I've heard that love for the local game here has died a bit and it's great to see so many fans turn up to watch the team. I want to help rebuild local football here.

"When the fans come, it motivates us players and makes us want to play better."

It is understood he arrived initially on a week-long trial, but Pennant said he would stay as long as Tampines want him to.

The Stags will depart for a week-long tour of Malaysia on Friday.

Coach V Sundramoorthy was pleased with Pennant's contribution.

"It's only his third day here, he hasn't trained too much with the team," said the man known as the Dazzler in his playing days.

SIGN HIM

"But already, physically he looks all right and he was comfortable on the ball, making some good passes.

"Once he understands his teammates better, he'll be in a good position to help us score more goals."

Those who turned up were satisfied with the action served up by Pennant and Co.

"I'm a Liverpool fan and I was excited to get to watch Pennant play," said Samuel Yeo, a 22-year-old student.

"Even though he played just the second half, he looked pretty good.

"I think, given more time, he will get even better. I hope Tampines sign him."

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