Tampines coach Raab delighted with Webb's return
Tampines coach hails the Canadian as one of the S.League's best wingers
Tampines Rovers may have lost two key players in defence to foreign clubs, but it's not all doom and gloom for the Stags.
The departures of goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud (Thailand's Nongbua Pitchaya) and centre back Madhu Mohana (Malaysia's Negeri Sembilan) have been cushioned by a slew of signings, including a familiar name to Stags fans - Jordan Webb.
The Canadian winger returns to Tampines to fill the second spot in the foreign players' quota, with Tampines retaining Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi.
Local senior S.League clubs can sign only two imports next season, down from three.
Tampines coach Juergen Raab is delighted with the return of Webb, who scored 12 goals in 22 S.League appearances for the Stags in 2016. Webb joined Warriors FC this season, in which he scored seven goals.
Said the 59-year-old coach: "Jordan is one of the best wingers in the league, and I'm happy that he's back with us.
"Megumi also had a very good season where he was one of our key players, so I'm glad that we have two very strong wingers."
The Stags have also wasted no time in completing other signings as their next competitive match, an AFC Champions League qualifier against Indonesia's Bali United, is on Jan 16.
Taking the place of Izwan will be Geylang International goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari.
Boosting the Stags' backline are defenders Afiq Yunos, 27, and Amirul Adli, 21, who joined from Home United and Young Lions respectively.
Midfielder Yasir Hanapi also rejoins the team following his half-season spell with Malaysian side PDRM FA, while up front, 22-year-old striker Taufik Suparno has been recruited from the Young Lions.
The new signings, along with veterans Khairul Amri, Daniel Bennett, Fahrudin Mustafic, Fazrul Nawaz and Irwan Shah, will ensure a balance of youth and experience.
Raab hopes the young ones will rise to the challenge of playing for Tampines, who finished second in this year's nine-team S.League.
He said: "When the young players work with experienced ones, they can develop better. I want them to work hard for a spot in the team."
The Stags, however, could lose playmaker Shahdan Sulaiman, who wants to play overseas. They have also released defender Shakir Hamzah due to disciplinary reasons.
Jordan is one of the best wingers in the league, and I'm happy that he's back with us.Tampines Rovers coach Juergen Raab on Jordan Webb
Raab said: "That's a matter of behaviour, because we are not happy with what he has done in the last year. I need players I can trust, so we have made the decision not to keep him."
The Stags have already started pre-season on Monday. But with some players on holiday or still under contract with their former clubs, Raab lamented that it has been tough for him to gather a full squad for training.
He said: "All of my players were managed well during the holidays, but for the players from other clubs, it was a bit more difficult, because they must be released (from their clubs) first.
"If they are not released earlier, then given only two weeks before our first match, it would be a challenge for us to prepare with the numbers that we have."
Raab is aware of the uphill task ahead. If they beat Bali, they must next overcome Thai club Chiangrai United and Chinese Super League's Shanghai SIPG to reach the group stage of the AFC Champions League.
Said Raab: "We want to win, but it will be a big challenge for us because all the other leagues are much stronger than S.League. That's why I'm focusing on one game at a time, and if we can reach the next stage, it will be a big success."