Tampines Rovers will kick off their AFC Cup campaign against Malaysia’s Felda United on Tuesday looking to steady the ship after a period of upheaval.
With last season’s potent attacking trio of Jermaine Pennant, Billy Mehmet and Jordan Webb all gone, Singapore international Khairul Amri has been drafted in as the new focus of the attack.
Amri will be supported by Sahil Suhaimi, who was signed following his departure from Geylang.
The Stags also have a completely new defence, with veteran Daniel Bennett and Madhu Mohana set to reprise their partnership from the Singapore international squad.
The biggest surprise of the close season, however, came with coach Akbar Nawas’ sudden departure late last month days after the 2-0 loss to Philippine side Global FC in the AFC Champions League qualifier.
His replacement is Jurgen Raab, the former Young Lions coach having had little time to stamp his authority on the squad, a fact the German is aware of.
“It is a strange feeling that my first match is such an important one, and not knowing what we can deliver,” he told the pre-match press conference.
“If I had six weeks of training with the team and had played two friendlies, I would have known more.
“But we will go out tomorrow wanting to put on a good, competitive performance, and try to win the match.”
Felda, meanwhile, come into the tie following a poor start to the Malaysia Super League season that has seen them fail to win in five games.
They also have managerial troubles after coach Azmi Mohamed quit after three games leaving caretaker Mohd Nik in charge.
Nik, however, is pleased with the progress despite the lack of positive results.
“Since I took over, we have played well, but our results have not been good. But, in terms of our pattern of play, I have seen improvement,” he said.
Nevertheless, having played several games this season the Fighters should have an advantage in match fitness which could prove decisive.