No Tham Like The Present
The Farmer Bunnies got a taste of the idol-worship usually present only at bigger clubs, when head coach Elias van Dal
pulled out all the stops to welcome academy superstar Tham Leng Teck
to the first team with a full-on media extravaganza at Carrot Field.
The newly-minted Number 32 was undoubtedly the most-awaited talent to come out of the Rancher Rabbits in its admittedly brief history, but van Dal and most neutral observers agreed that no hyperbole was involved.
"Tham is the equivalent of what a Tian Yonghang
, Mohd Safri or Fang Tong Rong was for the Birds." van Dal declared. "The position's very different, of course, but in terms of impact, I can only see Tham surpassing them, given that we are just starting out."
Tellingly, his ability at the U-20 level, even against older opponents, was such that more than one journalist questioned if he had reported his age correctly. "He doesn't play like a sixteen year-old, heck, he doesn't look
like one." one article went, not completely unreasonably given Tham's remarkably mature appearance.
The man himself gave the impression of having his head screwed on tightly, as he acknowledged that he had plenty to prove. "I know the gap between youth football and the professional ranks." he said. "For today, I just want to help the team to progress in the Cup against Sands."
His new colleagues were approving, all the more as he had been training with them for several weeks already. "He's something special." fellow defender Au Pin How
offered. "It's the... poise that he has."
Chicken Wings utility man Yahya Fareed had the bad fortune to turn pro in the same week as Tham, but the muscled lad did still snag a nice move to Colombia for himself, after two-time national champions Despojos offered a nominal S$12000.
"When such a club comes in for you, you don't think too much and just sign." Fareed, who has played all over midfield and defence, grinned. "Bulgaria's ITERGO and Ropelearner FC would have been fine destinations too, but this was just too good to pass up."