Dream signings for the S-League in 2013

Diego Maradona, former coach of UAE's Al-Wasl club, may find better luck in Singapore. (Getty Images)Diego Maradona, former coach of UAE's Al-Wasl club, may find better luck in Singapore. (Getty Images)


In my previous piece, I noted the immense impact ex-Spanish international Daniel Guiza is likely to have on the Malaysian Super League next season.

The question of whether any S-League club would be able to pull off such a signing was raised and met with considerable response from readers.

It's clear that without external help, S-League clubs will never be able to sign marquee players.

This kind of financial support, if it comes, will either come from an astronomical increase in funding from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) or from a unprecedented level of corporate sponsorship.

For the moment, let's put aside this mental barrier of money and dream about the possible transfers which we may see for the 2013 season.

Craig Gordon (Scotland) to Tampines Rovers

Tampines was the only local club to play a foreign player in the goalkeeper position in 2012 and imagine if they can secure the services of ex-Sunderland custodian Craig Gordon. Just five years ago, Gordon was the most expensive British goalkeeper at £9 million but his stock has sharply plummeted in the past few years.

Still only 29, what Gordon need may be a new environment and a club to find him find his footing. With 40 Scotland caps, he is already an established international but he needs to perform regularly again to slowly make his way back to his national team.

Also, he will not find it difficult to settle in Singapore, where English is the official language and there is a huge pool of British expatriates.

Lee Chun Soo (Korea) to Balestier Khalsa

Fans who followed South Korea's magical journey to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup may remember the then 21-year-old Lee Chun-Soo, who was a crucial team member as Korea finished fourth.

Lee went to Europe after that World Cup, but failed to settle after several unsuccessful spells in Spain and Holland.

In 2009, he eventually ended joined Saudi side Al-Nassr, before being shipped out again a year later to Omiya Ardija in the J-League. That was his last professional club.

At 31, Lee may still have a couple of years of football left in him and perhaps joining a club like Balestier Khalsa may rejuvenate him.

The Toa Payoh outfit already has two Koreans on their books for 2012 and if they add Lee to that, may just be able to create a commercial franchise capitalising on the local fascination with K-pop culture.

Tal Ben Haim (Israel) to Geylang United

Local fans will no doubt be familiar with Israeli international Tal Ben Haim, who played in the Premier League with five different clubs, including Chelsea and Manchester City.

The 30-year-old defender last played for the now-bankrupt Portsmouth, which he left this summer on somewhat acrimonious terms over his unpaid wages.

Bel Haim can a worthwhile signing for Geylang United, a side that shipped 50 goals over the course of the last season — the most in the S-League.

A handful of legendary local defenders in the likes of Lim Tong Hai, Aide Iskandar and Baihakki Khaizan all used to don the green of Geylang — Ben Haim can possibly join them in the Eagles' Hall of Fame.

Currently the Bedok outfit do not lack firepower upfront, but have often been undone by a leaky backline in 2012.

With his experience, Ben Haim can shape up the Eagles' defence and draw the crowd back to the Bedok Stadium.

John Carew (Norway) to Home United

S-League's top scorer of 2012, Frederic Mendy, has expressed his interest to leave the club to pursue some opportunities in Europe.

As a replacement, Home United may consider the services of ex-Premier League striker John Carew.

The 1.97m striker has already enjoyed a very successful career in Europe, scoring over 150 goals in different top flight clubs across six different countries. He left West Ham United this summer after failing to secure a contract extension.

Now at 33, he may relish an entirely new challenge here in Singapore.

It is interesting to note that his height, he is 5cm taller than Aleksandar Đurić and Mendy, so centre-backs in the S-League can expect tough outings against the Norwegian, should he decided to make Singapore his next port of call.

Diego Maradona (Argentina) to Hougang United

There are reports linking current Hougang United coach Nenad Bacina to the vacant job at Tampines Rovers.

Should Bacina make the move, perhaps the Cheetahs can consider a certain Diego Maradona for the hot seat at Hougang.

For a player of Maradona's calibre, his managerial career has anything but glittering.

Brief stints with Argentina and Dubai side AL Wasl FC have not managed to establish his reputation as a manager so perhaps Hougang can provide a place for him to work on his credentials.

Hougang has slowly but surely earned a reputation as a club that has dared to be different.

Their ultra passionate fans have formed a cult following for the North-Eastern side, in an area which is the bedrock of opposition support in local politics.

The comparison may be far-fetched, but this setting is somewhat similar to Naples in the late 1980s, the Italian city where Maradona still remain very much a legend.

The outspoken Maradona will relish the role of a pantomime villain and will instantly endear himself to the Hougang faithful.

Damon Yeo was a barely a teen when Singapore won the double in Malaysia back in 1994 but has not stopped supporting the national team and the S-League since.