Tampines new signing Mohana eyes honours
New Tampines signing wants to restore local pride next season
National defender Madhu Mohana will join Tampines Rovers in a bid to land more silverware and build his profile in the region.
The 25-year-old, who can play anywhere across the back four, has agreed terms for a one-year deal with the Stags.
He will add height, composure and tough tackling to a defence that includes Shakir Hamzah, Ismadi Mukhtar, Irwan Shah, Jufri Taha and Hafiz Abu Sujad.
Capped 22 times by the national team, the former Warriors FC defender told The New Paper yesterday: "I'm happy to sort out my future for the next season and I'm looking forward to playing in the AFC Champions League or the AFC Cup for the first time.
"The introduction of the crowning of Asean champions for the AFC Cup provides an exciting challenge, and it's good exposure for everyone involved to play at a higher continental level.
"There are many national team players and former LionsXII teammates at Tampines, so it won't take long for me to settle down."
Mohana and Kento Fukuda were expected to form a solid defensive partnership at Warriors FC, but they finished seventh in the nine-team S.League, conceding 39 goals in 24 games.
Tipped to form part of the backbone for Singapore following impressive performances for the LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League from 2012 to 2015, he was disappointed with how the campaign turned out.
"It was definitely a bad season for me earlier this year, but I felt I rebounded well to pick up my form during the Suzuki Cup," said Mohana.
AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
"My aim is definitely to try and win the S.League with Tampines.
"The club have not won the league since 2013 and I have not won the S.League title before.
"After seeing foreign teams win the S.League in the last two seasons, it's time to restore local pride and I hope to be able to achieve that with Tampines next year."
The Stags will be the first Singaporean team to kick off the season next year, when they travel to the Philippines next month to play Global FC in the first preliminary round of the AFC Champions League.
They will need to beat the Filipino champions and then A-League's Brisbane Roar and China's Shanghai Shenhua in the subsequent qualifiers to make the tournament proper.
If Tampines do not make the AFC Champions League group stage, they will fall into AFC Cup Group G alongside Hanoi T&T, Ceres and Felda United.
Tampines coach Akbar Nawas sees Mohana as the "final piece in the defence jigsaw", as they aim to improve on last year's second-placed finish in the S.League and quarter-final exit in the AFC Cup.
Akbar said: "Madhu is an asset to any team, so we are glad to sign him.
"He reads the game well to make crucial interceptions, but I also like him because of his attacking capabilities.
"Besides his long throws, Madhu is also one of the better defenders in Singapore who passes well such that he can build on his interceptions to launch attacks.
"This fits in well with the way we want to play, so we are looking forward to his contributions in the upcoming season."
Other than Mohana, it is understood that Tampines have also secured the services of attackers Hafiz Rahim, Fazli Ayob and Jamil Ali, while keeping a keen eye on Singapore's No. 1 striker Khairul Amri, who is also targeted by Hougang United.