By Daniel Teo
Buoyed by their eighth-place finish last season, Balestier Khalsa coach Salim Moin has challenged his side to aim for greater heights in the 2011 Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League.
The club are used to having to slug it out in the bottom half of the league after finishing bottom in 2008 and 2009.
But not anymore.
Instead, Salim has urged the Tigers to leverage on last season's improvement and bare their claws this year - although he does expect a tougher challenge this time out.
"The club is taking a whole new different approach this season," Moin said during a pre-season press conference on Wednesday.
"I want the players to go into every match - be it against Tampines Rovers, Home United or Singapore Armed Forces - with a winning mentality."
"But I do expect a stronger league than last season. Home United have strengthened their squad and so have Tampines."
The Toa Payoh-based club were hit with the departure of former captain Daniel Hammond to SAFFC but wasted little time in finding his replacement in the form of South Korean defender Lim Young Woo.
The 24-year-old was signed from Suwon Samsung Bluewings and will form a new-look partnership with Paul Cunningham at the heart of Balestier's defence.
In attack, the club have also opted for some Korean firepower with the signing of striker Kim Young Kwang from Suwon City Hall FC.
And Salim revealed that the club are not quite done with their recruitment and expect the arrival of another striker by the start of the season.
Said the 49-year-old: "Kim is the second last foreign signing. The final one will arrive within this week and it will most likely be a striker."
Meanwhile, Cunningham has taken over the captaincy and the New Zealander is looking forward to the season and striking up a formidable partnership with Lim.
"Our partnership is getting better each day and our communication is improving. I am looking forward to a good season."
Asked what objectives he has set on both club and personal levels, the defender proved to be equally - if not more ambitious than his coach.
"Of course we'd want to improve on last year, where we finished eighth. We're aiming for a top five finish this year.
"On a personal note, I'd like to break into the New Zealand national team and hopefully my performances this season will help me achieve that."
Even the ambitious Salim admitted he felt challenged by his skippers' new target for the club.
He quipped: "I like the challenge by my captain. But it will be a big task."
Big task indeed. And it doesn't come any bigger than their opening game against Home United at the Toa Payoh Stadium on 15 February.
The Tigers have spoken. Now the time has come for them to show it on the pitch.