Head coach Bencherifa leaves Warriors
Ex-champs' coaching team project ends before it starts
After winning the S.League title in 2014 and limping to fifth spot in the 10-team league last year, Warriors FC looked to ring the changes ahead of the 2016 season.
A technical department helmed by two men - Jorg Steinebrunner and Karim Bencherifa - who have led teams on their own was to be the centrepiece of the new-look Warriors.
That experiment is now dead in the water.
At the club's first pre-season training session on Tuesday, the club confirmed that Bencherifa has parted ways with the Warriors.
"Due to personal reasons, he cannot give a 100 per cent commitment to the club and we have reached a mutual agreement to part ways," said Warriors chairman Lam Shiu Tong.
While sources revealed that there were issues with obtaining a work permit for the Moroccan, who joined the club late last season, both the Warriors and Bencherifa declined to explain his departure.
"We are bound by a confidentiality clause and all I can say is that (the parting) was mutual and amicable, and I would like to thank the club for the opportunity," said the former Tanjong Pagar and Woodlands Wellington coach.
In the Warriors' original plans, Bencherifa was the head coach tasked with leading the team in the S.League and Singapore Cup, while Steinebrunner, the technical director, would take charge during the League Cup.
"The head coach will call the shots on how training is conducted, even down to the development teams and the expectations are that Jorg will fulfil that role," said Lam.
"There are no plans to get a replacement technical director."
Lam revealed that both Steinebrunner and Bencherifa were involved in the selection of the 2016 squad, and, while this has thrown a spanner in the works at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium, they will be able to move on.
The Warriors also posted on their Facebook yesterday that they have appointed Razif Onn as the head coach of their Prime League side.
"I like to look on the bright side of things and, at least (on Tuesday) at our first training session, we were able to give the players some certainty as to who will be leading the team," said Lam.
"We are quite experienced in handling challenges and we have to take this professionally. We will have to see how it goes and prioritise our main team, and it does seem that the players are comfortable with Jorg."
Steinebrunner led Geylang International to eighth spot last year before swopping the green and white for the Warriors' blue.
Bencherifa told The New Paper in an earlier interview that he was very close to taking charge at the Courts Young Lions last year, but the former Mohun Bagan coach has been eyeing a move to Singapore to be with his children who attend schools here.
He did not respond to questions about his future yesterday.
"It's a good thing we have Jorg already with us," said Lam.
"He can do the job, he was involved with Karim in the selection of players and we are looking forward to the season."
The Football Association of Singapore has yet to release details about the 2016 S.League season.
It is expected to kick off with nine teams, with sources predicting the first match will take place a month later than usual, in March.
Due to personal reasons, he cannot give a 100 per cent commitment to the club and we have reached a mutual agreement to part ways.
- Warriors chairman Lam Shiu Tong on Karim Bencherifa leaving the club