Stags try out Portuguese flavour

He created a stir a little over three weeks ago when he terminated the contracts of his head coach and two foreign stars, even as his club sat top of the Great Eastern- Yeo's S-League.

Tampines Rovers chairman Teo Hock Seng took on the task of finding their replacements personally.

While he has already installed club general manager Tay Peng Kee as interim coach to take over from Nenad Bacina until the end of the season, Teo still has two foreign-player slots open, after he sent marquee signing Martin Wagner and striker Sead Hadzibulic packing.

Those slots could be filled by Portuguese duo Diogo Caramelo and Vitor Ladeiras, who trained with the team for the first time on Tuesday evening.

Teo told The New Paper that the two players were recommended to him by Jose Camacho, an associate of super-agent Jorge Mendes, who represents the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho.

The Tampines chairman met Mendes when he was in town for Atletico Madrid's exhibition match against a Singapore Selection side on May 22.

The two trialists come with decent-looking CVs - striker Caramelo was on the books of Portuguese giants Benfica until last season, while playmaker Ladeiras played for another top-tier side, Estrela Amadora, as recently as 2009.

Teo admits the two youngsters are raw - Caramelo is 20 while Ladeiras is 21 - but the Tampines supremo insists he will not take another punt on a marquee signing this season.

Argentine midfielder Wagner was on a one-year contract believed to be worth around 200,000 euros ($325,000), but left the club after a disappointing five months in which he only played just 742 minutes of football.

"There's no harm... If they (the two Portuguese players) are not good, we'll send them back and we'll look at others," said Teo on Tuesday.

"I'd rather sign young players like these two than spend big money on a 33-year-old because of his name. Look at Farra (Mustafic Fahrudin). I brought him in when he was 20 (in 2002), and look at him now."

Tampines midfielder Fahrudin won the S-League's Young Player of the Year award in 2004, took up Singapore citizenship two years later and became a Lions star.

Caramelo and Ladeiras are not the only ones to walk through the revolving door at Tampines.

Slovakian fitness trainer Michal Horny arrived last week as Teo looks to improve his side's fitness levels.

Rigorous workout

Horny put the Tampines players through a rigorous fitness workout on Tuesday - they completed the gruelling yo-yo test and then proceeded to do almost an hour of circuit training with equipment like resistance bands and medicine balls.

Said Teo: "My team is a 70-minute team - I want us to be a 90-minute one.

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