Singapore Football

Lions defender Baihakki: Pennant is what the S.League needs

Lions defender Baihakki believes ex-EPL star will lift S.League

He has certainly caught the eye at Tampines Rovers.

Former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant has created a buzz in local football of late and it is set to pick up momentum after he notched two assists in just 69 minutes of action for the Stags.

Having crossed for Shakir Hamzah to score the second in a 2-0 win over Hougang United last Saturday, Pennant repeated the trick against Johor Darul Ta'zim II last night when his free-kick stumped the Malaysian side's defence and found the head of Jordan Webb, who netted the game's solitary goal at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

With a wide grin, he told The New Paper later: "Let's make it three (assists) in three in the next game."

Pennant came on as a 66th- minute substitute for South Korean defender Kwon Jun and, alongside second-half substitutes Webb and Christopher van Huizen, helped inject some verve into Tampines' game.

GAME CHANGER

After his introduction, Pennant took up a No. 10 role just behind main striker Sufian Anuar, as playmaker Shahdan Sulaiman dropped into a deeper position in central midfield to accommodate his new teammate.

Despite carrying a thigh strain, former England Under-21 star Pennant glided across the pitch with ease and looked lively in his role, running with the ball at defenders and showing good feet to avoid a couple of flying tackles.

While he showed his frustration at misplacing a couple of passes, Pennant had every right to be satisfied with his outing.

He showed more vigour than in the Hougang game and looked on the same wavelength with his teammates.

"It was a good test, a good game," said Pennant, who will take the S.League's mandatory 2.4km fitness test tomorrow.

"I was playing probably at 80 per cent, but I felt good."

He added he was comfortable playing in attacking midfield or on the flanks, saying it was up to coach V Sundramoorthy.

Sundram was pleased with his new star's performance.

"He was great," said the 50-year-old, known as The Dazzler back in the day for his skills.

"Give him a couple more games and he'll be even sharper.

"He showed tonight he can still play those defence-splitting passes."

Singapore national defender Baihakki Khaizan, who played the full 90 minutes for JDT II last night, hailed Tampines' signing of Pennant.

"His arrival will give the S.League a lift," said the 31-year-old. "Just look at the crowd. You don't get this kind of crowd in pre-season.

"Hopefully, this (strong attendance) can last the whole season, and other clubs will follow Tampines' example.

"He's a quality player. He still has the movement, he has the assists in him, and he wants to show he's still Jermaine Pennant. I believe he will work even harder to prove himself."
- SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ


Give him a couple more games and he’ll be even sharper. He showed tonight he can still play those defencesplitting passes.

— Tampines coach V Sundramoorthy on Jermaine Pennant

tampines roversjohor darul ta'zimJermaine Pennant