Vallee set to unleash attacking Jaguars

Patrick Vallee has promised his Tanjong Pagar United side will play an entertaining brand of attacking football in the 2013 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League campaign.

Tanjong Pagar vs Albirex Niigata: Monsef Zerka
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

The Jaguars had a season to forget in 2012 as they picked up just 20 points from 24 games, finishing second from bottom ahead of only Woodlands Wellington in the process.

More worryingly for Tanjong Pagar was the fact that they had to worst scoring record of all 13 teams, finding the net a miserable 17 times throughout the course of the campaign.

Their less-than-satisfactory performances convinced the club hierarchy to part ways with ex-Singapore international Terry Pathmanathan and, in his place, Vallee, who led the now-defunct Etoile to the title back in 2010, was installed as their new boss.

During Etoile's brief two-year stint in the S.League, they set up base at the Queenstown Stadium and with it presently being home to the Jaguars, the Frenchman has promised to light up the arena once more.

"I'm here to improve the club's results and help Tanjong Pagar United rise to the next level," he said in Wednesday's pre-season press conference.

"My plan is to play attractive football with my style. The most important thing for me is that I want fans to enjoy watching us.

"I want more fans in our stadium, more fans everywhere and bring a lot of improvement to Tanjong Pagar United.

"We will not only try to win but also help Singaporean football reach the next level."

Tanjong Pagar are set to have a real Gallic feel in the coming season given all five of their foreign players hail from France, including Aurelien Herisson, Anthony Aymard, Ismael Benahmed, Kamel Ramdani and marquee signing Monsef Zerka - a French-born Morocco international.

Nonetheless, Vallee is adamant he will treat all his players equally although he is hoping his local players can learn from their new team-mates with European experience.

"There is no difference whether they are local or foreign players," he added. "But the local players can learn from the foreigners.

"I have a young player Rizawan [Abdullah] - it is very good for him that he can learn from a player like Monsef. My goalkeeper Shamsudin [Hashim] can now learn from Aurelien."

Given their problems in finding the back of the net last season, plenty are expecting big things from Zerka, who previously plied his trade in the French Ligue 1.

However, while he admits he will be looking to the 31-year-old to be a threat up front, the Tanjong Pagar boss revealed he was equally excited by his "local marquee signing" - ex-Tampines Rovers playmaker Ahmad Latiff, who played a key role in the Stags winning back-to-back league titles in the past two years.

"When I found out the S.League wanted to recruit marquee players, I called Monsef because I know what he is capable of," Vallee explained. "He played more than 100 games in Ligue 1.

"He is an impressive player with a very impressive CV but I didn't recruit him because of that. I recruited him because of what he can offer with his performances.

"I built my team around the key positions - goalkeeper, centre-back, attacking midfielder and striker - and I am very happy that we also managed to recruit our local marquee player - Ahmad Latiff.

"When I found out Ahmad Latiff was released by Tampines, the first thing I did was tell my chairman that I want to work with him.

"I like this player a lot and I remember him from 2010; first he was with SAFFC and then Tampines. I think Ahmad Latiff gave a lot in Tampines' title triumphs in the last two years."

Tanjong Pagar chairman Edward Liu also revealed on Wednesday that the club were targeting a mid-table finish in the coming campaign.

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