In an interview with the S-league website, Dolphins coach Aide Iskandar explained how he came to sign one of the S.League’s best-known foreigners - Kenji Arai.
“We reflected back on the team’s performances throughout the six months, and I thought we conceded a lot of unexpected goals or silly goals.
“So that was one department we needed to strengthen. I looked around to source for any local defenders, but to be honest there aren’t many, so that’s why I took the decision to look for a foreign defender.
“Kenji Arai has always been one of the top defenders in the league, and it just so happened that his season in India ended on 29 May. So to get him was a last-minute thing.
“I’m very delighted that he’s here, and likewise he feels the same. I believe he will help the young boys here like Shahir (Hamzah) and (R.) Siva to be better players alongside him.”
The Japanese centreback’s experience in the game will be vital to the club, whose most seasoned defender prior to his arrival was 27-year-old captain Nor Azli Yusoff.
And it is a change in the team policy according to Aide as he go on to explain to the website.
“Every coach would like to build from the back, and to make sure we have a stable backline before working all the way up to the front,” he noted.
“I guess we did it the other way around at the beginning of the season, when we brought in Moussa Keita, Ryan Fante, that kind of stuff. Now we want to stop conceding unnecessary goals, so we’re going back to tightening the defence up.
“Slowly, when things are tightened at the back and the team is growing in confidence, we’ll work more on our attack. And it’s not that we don’t need strikers; we’ve got Diallo, we’ve got Jordan, and they have scored eight goals among themselves.
“At the moment, they’re trying, but one silly goal does demoralise us and their confidence gets hit. I hope that will change with Kenji here at the back.”