Islom Davlatov had barely cleared out his locker room stall, when its new owner would arrive, as Hovaness Noubaryan
introduced former Palestine youth international Salah Kamel
within a day of the Uzbek's departure. Unlike Davlatov, the 27 year-old Kamel is an avowed pure midfielder, something that Noubaryan hopes will help with establishing a team identity.
"We might have too many jack-of-all-trades, who would play forward, centre mid, or even wing and defense if needed." Noubaryan explained. "I admire the total football ethos myself, and the Birds have always dabbled in it to an extent, but maybe it's simply not very realistic these days."
Noubaryan did admit that while Kamel was the very definition of box-to-box, the role that most needed him filling would be covering mid, and that he might have to be pulled deeper if needs be. "The closest we have to him's probably Bilal, and even then they don't really fill the same profile. Kamel gives something we haven't really had for a long while."
The transfer cost a bit over S$11.7 million from Czech fourth divisioners Kotěhůlky, where Kamel had spent the last six seasons distinguishing himself. Prior to that, he had won his first national U-20 cap while with Dutch club De Saints, following short stays at Northern Ireland's Baldy Hard Men and Angola's Deportivo Ladbergen, after emerging at the now-defunct Vinakrik.
In a short video interview, Kamel affirmed that his usage as a utility player in his U-20 stint drove him towards nailing a position down. "It's tough to get in the stride, when you're here one day and there another. I am delighted to join a club with history, and hopefully it won't be long before we make more together."
Noubaryan would refuse to confirm or deny talk that he had also been considering others like former St. Xavier's FC star Chin Ah Soon, the Czech Republic's Viktor Ondryáš, Israel's Eduard Kshnyakin or Indonesia's Sigit Riadi. "All that matters is that Kamel is our guy now - speculation should be left to the tabloids."