Singapore Football

The title contenders

WARRIORS FC

Coach Alex Weaver got Warriors FC to the top.

He's about to find out that staying there is harder.

Losing 2014 S.League Player of the Year Hassan Sunny was a massive blow, but Warriors still have plenty of experience in the form of Daniel Bennett, Hafiz Rahim and Shi Jiayi.

Weaver has also kept his faith in the same foreign quintet that got the job done last season.

Should Nicolas Velez and Miroslav Pejic, who combined for 33 league goals, continue their deadly form up front, Warriors have enough firepower to win it again.

HOME UNITED

It has been 11 seasons since Home United, one of S.League's biggest clubs, were last crowned champions.

Following the five-year reign of Lee Lim Saeng, they have turned to Philippe Aw, who will now have his shot at the big time following success with the club's Prime League side.

Not much has been made about the Protectors as they have quietly gone about their business in pre-season, but the presence of players such as Noh Rahman, Juma'at Jantan, Kamel Ramdani and Sirina Camara ensure they have a good mix of steel, guile and power.

In Dane Ken Ilso, they also have an ex-Bundesliga striker who has been tipped to set the competition alight this year.

BRUNEI DPMM

So near yet so far - that was DPMM's story last season. They led the table for most of the campaign, only to be pipped to the title on the final day, following just one win in their final five matches.

Still, there were positives for coach Steve Kean, especially the emergence of Azwan Ali and Adi Said.

This year, the Bruneian club will be without talismanic forward Rodrigo Tosi, who has returned to Brazil, but they have retained Bosnian centre back Boris Raspudic and Irish utility man Joe Gamble.

Kean will be hoping former Hull City man Craig Fagan can shoulder the goal-scoring burden this season, along with fellow new import Rafael Ramazotti.

ALBIREX NIIGATA

Albirex Niigata have never been short on ambition, and have notched four consecutive top-five finishes. But they are yet to win an S.League crown.

Given their relative youth, coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama faces a tough task in moulding the inexperienced players into title challengers.

After years of promoting young Japanese talent, the White Swans have gone for a more-experienced squad this year, which suggests that development may take a back seat.

Apart from J.League alumnus Fumiya Kogure and Yosuke Nozawa, big things are also expected of forwards Atsushi Kawata and Rion Taki, who formed a potent partnership at Hannan University.

I think it’s a bit unrealistic to suggest anyone will be strolling to the title.

— Warriors coach Alex Weaver

I believe the team that stay united the longest will challenge for the title.

— Home United coach Philippe Aw

Our main goal is to win the S.League. For us to do that, we have to acknowledge all that was good in our best year ever (last year). And know that with hard work, this year will be even better.

— DPMM coach Steve Kean

This year, we have more experience and we will have better technical ability... I’m confident Albirex can match any of the strong sides.

— Albirex coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama