Rich And In Depth
Despite their Challenger Cup-winning feats, the Farmer Bunnies were not ones to rest on their laurels, as they showcased their ambitions for the future by signing Ghanaian youth international fullback Richard Agyei
. Agyei, who will be turning twenty-one next week, has collected five caps at U-20 level, and commanded a fee of S$9 million from French sixth division club Massive Attack Reloaded, who have maintained a connection with Ghana through their affiliate side FC Adonkor II.
Agyei had been a known quantity since he first kicked a ball, and he would soon be recruited at fifteen by Cephaledium Junior, the youth division of Gold Coast Cup winners A.S. Cephaledium. Unfortunately, their drive for glory meant that there would have been few opportunities for Agyei had he stayed, thus his move to France upon reaching professional eligibility.
It was a wise choice, with Agyei thriving in the supportive environment, which was reflected in his increasingly-flashy personal styling. He made his international debut against the Czech Republic in the latest U-20 World Cup qualifiers, and also featured against Israel, Kazakhstan, France and Bosnia & Herzegovina; while Ghana didn't make the finals, Agyei did score in their 7-0 hammering of Israel.
Bunnies head coach Dalibor Kostadinović
didn't deny that they had paid dearly for Agyei. "The price was high, but Richard was worth it. He brings rare qualities to our backline - there are few his age who have the vision and awareness to consistently pick out runners, even from withdrawn positions."
"Also, while we have always prided ourselves on being a pipeline for top Singaporean defenders, there is also a need to bring in ideas and perspectives from other footballing cultures. Richard is steeped in experience from Africa and Europe despite his youth, and I'm sure his teammates will benefit from observing his play... and him, theirs."
Kostadinović noted that former Grilled Birds trainee Leong Heng Choon would have been a good fit too, but the Buns were disallowed from signing him due to possible conflict of interest. Leong would eventually move to Finnish Division Six champions Klubi Hutikuti for S$4.6 million, after local stints at Tampines Phoenix F.C. and St. Xavier's FC.
Agyei, who broke conventions by wearing the Number Nine shirt with his former club, chose the No. 23 last vacated by Sarkis Krikoryan as his new number. "I'm extremely excited at this new chapter in my life." he enthused. "Let's do big things together!"