RAMS HOPE FOR 'MILO' TONIC
They surpassed expectations to finish fifth in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League last season.
Woodlands' hopes of replicating their outstanding 2013 will depend, in some part, on how well their two new "Milo" imports fare.
Defender Milos Jevtic is a no-nonsense centre back who models his game after Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic.
Forward Stefan Milojevic, the former Birmingham City and Monaco man who used to don Geylang International's colours, is another important addition to the squad.
To avoid confusion, the team have resorted to calling Jevtic "Mickey".
New Woodlands coach Darren Stewart believes the Rams could be a force to be reckoned with if their two new foreign imports settle into the S.League quickly.
Said the Australian, who led Balestier Khalsa to the StarHub League Cup last year: "Mickey will get the job done, and Milo, well, everyone knows how good a player he is.
"It's just about getting him back (from a minor back injury) in time.
"The team's not just them, of course, but if they can combine well with the others, we'll do okay because we've got a good solid team here."
Indeed, the Rams have managed to retain the core of the squad that surprised many with their fluid performances last season.
Veteran shot-stopper Yazid Yasin is still around, as are experienced defenders Rosman Sulaiman and Shahril Alias, Japanese midfield general Atsushi Shimono and livewire South Korean forwards Chang Jo Yoon and Moon Soon Ho.
But Stewart is sweating over the fitness of a number of his players, including Rosman (ankle), Shahril (knee), Jevtic (knee) and Milojevic (back).
"Tactically, we've hardly been able to do anything in pre-season," lamented the coach.
"I don't expect our first four games to go tremendously well because I've not had a full squad at all.
"That'll probably mean we will peak a bit later in the season, which might not be such a bad thing."
Yazid admitted Woodlands were much more fortunate with injuries and suspensions last season, and this contributed to their outstanding season.
"We were lucky because each time, at best, maybe we had one or two players out with injuries or suspensions," said the 34-year-old.
"But, apart from that, I don't think there's too much difference between last year's Woodlands and now.
"Everybody's working hard, and looking forward to the new season.
"It's always difficult to replicate a good season but it's up to the players to do their best and try to achieve it. We want to keep moving forward."
FANFARE HUSSAIN RAZZAK, 51
l BEST-CASE SCENARIO Our wish is always to be in the top half. It's tough to aim too high because the big teams are always there. I also hope the club can engage the (Woodlands) community better so the fans return to the stadium.
l WORST-CASE SCENARIO Nobody turns up at Woodlands Stadium. In terms of how the team fare, it's a tough guess. But we are good enough to avoid bottom.
l KEY MAN I'd say (South Korean striker) Moon Soon Ho, since he was the joint top-scorer last year. He will deliver the goods again.
l PREDICTION 4th