Weaver demands respect ahead of S.League opener
GREAT EASTERN SG50 CHARITY SHIELD
WARRIORS FC v BALESTIER KHALSA
(Tonight, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
That is the simple message that Warriors FC coach Alex Weaver is sending out to his team's detractors as they prepare to face Balestier Khalsa in the Great Eastern SG50 Charity Shield at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.
Pointing his finger at "people outside the club", Weaver expressed his disappointment at critics who have tipped Warriors to struggle, even before they have kicked a ball in the 2015 S.League season's curtain-raiser.
"I think my boys and I deserve a little more respect," said the Englishman.
"We're the champions of the S.League for a reason.
"So, I don't care if people outside the club are doubting us.
"There were people who expected us to finish 11th last season. That's second from bottom.
"But we ended up in top spot when the season ended in November.
"So, that just goes to show the kind of knowledge that's out there. People are making their own assumptions."
Weaver acknowledged that Warriors' 3-1 loss to Indonesia's Persipura Jayapura in the AFC Cup on Tuesday further eroded public confidence in the side.
Before that, 2014 S.League Player of the Year and Warriors captain Hassan Sunny left the club in January, first for Tampines Rovers and subsequently Army United in the Thai Premier League. It left them with inexperienced 23-year-old Neezam Aziz as their first-choice goalkeeper.
The headline-grabbing way which fellow title rivals Tampines have assembled a star-studded squad has also pushed the Stags ahead of Warriors as pre-season favourites.
Not that Weaver minds.
After all, he has retained all five of his foreigners from last season - Marin Vidosevic, Thomas Beattie, Kevin McCann, Miroslav Pejic and Nicolas Velez. He believes that this will ensure him of one of the most important pillars in football - consistency.
"The match against Persipura was disappointing but, if there is one thing that is for certain, it is that the defeat was self-infilcted. If anyone was paying attention, they'd have noticed that. We gave the game to them.
"But the domestic campaign is different and, against Balestier, we want to keep possession better, create good chances in the attacking third and play our game, which is to attack.
"I'm confident that this will be yet another great season, starting with a positive first game.
"We've kept the majority of our squad together, we have all of our imports from last season still with us, so I think we have the kind of consistency that other teams may not have."
Argentina striker Nicolas Velez, crowned Young Player of the Year after banging in 21 goals, shared his coach's sentiments.
The 24-year-old said: "Our gameplan against Balestier is simple: Attack.
"We were the second-highest scoring team last season with 53 goals, so we will keep doing that.
"I also cannot wait to get on the scoresheet and open my account for the season, but what matters is that we beat Balestier.
"If we win, then I wouldn't mind waiting a little longer for my first goal."
I think my boys and I deserve a little more respect. We’re the champions of the S.League for a reason. So, I don’t care if people outside the club are doubting us.
— Warriors FC coach Alex Weaver