TIGERS AIM TO DAZZLE
l KEY TRANSFERS In: Goran Ljubojevic (FW, Croatian, Osijek), Emir Lotinac (DF, Serbian, Novi Pazar), Hanafi Akbar (FW, NFA U-18) Out: Qiu Li (FW, Home United), Obadin Aikenha (DF, Nigerian, Naypyitaw FC), Tengku Mushadad (MF, Tanjong Pagar)
THE COACH Marko Kraljevic has been involved in Singapore football since he appeared in a Balestier shirt in 1996, but this is the first time the former youth football coach is taking charge of an S.League side.
l ONE TO WATCH South Korean Park Kang Jin, 25, will be key to the Tigers' success. Blessed with silky skills and an eye for a killer pass, Park has shed a few kilogrammes and is raring to go.
They have set their sights on mounting a serious challenge for the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title, but Balestier Khalsa are also keeping one eye on the bigger picture.
The Tigers finished fourth last season, and their bid to do better will be laced with entertaining football, their own efforts to breathe more life into a league that's into its 19th year.
"We have got to do everything possible to rekindle spectator, corporate, and sponsor interest in our league," said club chairman S Thavaneson.
"Winning titles is important, but delivering good football that people talk about, seeing players who will light up the league - that is what we want. We want to put on a show that will excite."
They have already brought in former Croatia Under-21 forward Goran Ljubojevic and Serbian defender Emir Lotinac to add to their foreign trio of Paul Cunningham, Kim Min Ho and the effervescent Park Kang Jin, but Balestier have not closed the door on young players.
The Toa Payoh-based side have drafted in five players under the age of 23 to form a balanced side that Thavaneson believes can give the favourites a run for their money.
"I can tell you frankly that this team will be able to match any of the teams in the Malaysian Super League," he added.
Hanafi Akbar, 2010 Youth Olympic Games starlet, is joined by Nurullah Hussein and Tajeli Salamat (Courts Young Lions) and Randy Pay and Fariss Haiqel (LionsXII), with Thavaneson tipping his young guns to excite.
"We saw quality (in these boys) and they bring hope to the club's long-term progress," he said.
Last year, Balestier won the League Cup - their first major trophy - and finished fourth - their best league position since 1996 when they were third.
Skipper Cunningham believes the stage has been set for more success.
He said: "Last year was an example of what we can do, and this year, naturally we want to win every competition that we're in."
Balestier will face the Courts Young Lions in their league opener at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday.