Football Tribe SEA Editor
Singapore Premier League side Home United have shown their ambition and intent for a title challenge in the upcoming 2020 season by announcing the signing of Australian legend Aurelio Vidmar as their new head coach. The 52-year old has previously taken charge of both Adelaide United in the A-League and BG Pathum United in the Thai League 1, back when the latter was still called Bangkok Glass. Vidmar will take over a Protectors team that finished a disappointing 6th place in the 2019 Singapore Premier League season from Nor Rahman, who had acted as Home United’s interim coach after the August resignation of Radojko Avramović who went back to his native Serbia to seek treatment for his lung cancer.
Vidmar was in charge of Adelaide United from 2007 to 2010, taking the South Australian side to the 2008 AFC Champions League final where they bowed out 5-0 on aggregate to Japan’s Gamba Osaka. Stints at the Australian national teams ensued, where he served as head coach for the U-23 team from 2010 to 2016 while at the same time acting as the senior team’s assistant coach. From 2016 to 2017, Vidmar took charge of Bangkok Glass, taking the Rabbits to 3rd on the Thai League table in the 2016 season and 5th in 2017. Vidmar’s BG side of 2017 also became one of the only two teams to have beaten that year’s runaway league champions Buriram United, with the other one being Ratchaburi Mitr Phol.
While the official Facebook page of Home United is yet to announce Vidmar’s arrival, both Singapore’s The New Paper and Australian media have announced his appointment, with Vidmar telling the latter that he’ll be in Singapore shortly after the New Year.
Vidmar’s appointment adds more to the Australian flavor brewing within the Home United setup. The Protectors already have two Australian players within their ranks, 30-year old Brisbane-born Isaka Cernak and 20-year old Sydney native Oliver Puflett. The two and Vidmar will be joined by another Australian, 22-year old striker Andy Pengelly, who joins Home United from National Premier League Queensland side Brisbane Strikers.
While in the latter part of this decade Home United have proven themselves as one of the strongest domestic teams in the SPL alongside Tampines Rovers, the 2019 season was a major disappointment for the Protectors. Although they started off the 2019 brightly by beating 2018 SPL champions Albirex Niigata (Singapore) on penalties in the Singaporean Community Shield, Home United were poor in both the domestic and continental fronts. Finishing 6th in the 2019 SPL season, Home United were dumped out of the 2019 AFC Champions League qualifiers by 2018 Liga 1 Indonesia champions Persija Jakarta, ironically the very side that Home United have taken out in the 2018 AFC Cup during their conquest of the competition’s ASEAN Zone. The Protectors were then eliminated in the 2019 AFC Cup group stages, finishing second in their group behind another Liga 1 side, PSM Makassar.
Determined to avoid a repeat of last season’s disappointment, Home United went on an ambitious shopping trip in the transfer market. As reported by both The New Paper and the Straits Times, Home United have signed three stalwarts of the Singapore national team – goalkeeper Hassan Sunny joins from recently disbanded Thai League 2 side Army United, while midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman joins from SPL rivals Tampines Rovers. Last but not least striker Gabriel Quak joins the Protectors after an impressive 2019 SPL season with Warriors FC. In the foreign players front, Home United have retained the service of talismanic South Korean Song Ui-young, before agreeing terms with Albirex Niigata (Singapore)’s young defender Kaishu Yamazaki, who was nominated for the 2019 SPL Young Player of the Year award.