Plazibat ready to ascend to King Ken's throne at Home
New Home United striker Plazibat ready to fill in for departed Dane Ilso
He knows he has big boots to fill.
But new Home United man Stipe Plazibat is confident he can prove to be an able replacement for Danish forward Ken Ilso.
Ilso, nicknamed "King Ken", left the Protectors after two seasons, during which he banged in 36 goals in 55 games.
Home made him an offer to extend his stay at Bishan Stadium, but the 30-year-old former Dusseldorf and Bochum man decided to pack his bags and head across the Causeway, where sources said he has signed a pre-contract with Malaysia Cup winners Kedah FA.
The Protectors, who last won the S.League title in 2003, are hoping that former Hougang United man Plazibat can fill the void left behind by Ilso.
Speaking to The New Paper before a training session at Home's HYFA facility along Mattar Road yesterday, the 27-year-old Croat said: "Ken did well in the last two seasons and, with me coming here to replace him, everybody will have expectations of me.
"Maybe there is a little bit of pressure in that sense, but I don't really feel it.
"I believe I can do at least the same of what Ken did."
Before joining Hougang last season, Plazibat previously played for clubs in the top division of Croatia and Macedonia, before turning out in the second tier in Japan with FC Gifu - where he was the club's MVP in 2013 - and then V-Varen Nagasaki.
SHINING DEBUT SEASON
He shone in his debut S.League season with Hougang last term, scoring 16 goals in 28 games.
He is optimistic of an even better return in his sophomore year in Singapore.
"Every season, I try to do better than the previous season," said the former Hajduk Split youth player.
"But, to me, the main target is to achieve something for the club. If I score fewer than 16 goals and we win a trophy, I'll be very happy.
"But, of course, I know that for a player in my position, I must score goals for us to be (in contention)."
Home coach Aidil Sharin is confident Plazibat will be a hit at Home, describing him as a player who is similar to Ilso's standard and one who suits his team's style of play.
But the 39-year-old coach said he does not want to depend on just his new foreign hitman for goals.
"If he's injury-free, in Khairul Nizam, we have one of the best local strikers around," said Aidil.
"And don't forget Irfan (Fandi) is still with us as well.
"They have to push one another and fight for a chance to play, and I believe they can play a big role for us."
Aside from Plazibat, Home have retained their two other foreign players from last season - French defender Sirina Camara and South Korean midfielder Song Ui Yong.
They have also kept the core of their squad, including stars like national winger Faris Ramli.
However, the Protectors have decided not to keep playmaker Azhar Sairudin, who did well pulling the strings behind Ilso last season.
Aidil is expecting youngsters such as Adam Swandi and Mahathir Azeman to be the creative sparks for his side.
Tampines Rovers and national midfielder Izzdin Shafiq has also been linked with the Protectors.