Razif's ready for Warriors baptism of fire
Warriors' stand-in coach under no illusions over Tampines challenge
WARRIORS FC v
(Tonight, 730pm, Choa Chu Kang Stadium)
The overcast skies at Choa Chu Kang Stadium yesterday afternoon typified the dramatic past few days for Warriors FC.
Two days after last Thursday's shock 3-1 loss to bottom side Garena Young Lions, Jorg Steinebrunner stepped down as coach of the record nine-time Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League champions.
For now, Razif Onn will juggle first-team duties with his role as coach of the club's Prime League side.
First up for Onn is a huge clash at home to Tampines Rovers tonight, and preparations have not exactly been smooth after yesterday's downpour, which meant he could not complete the S.League side's final training session.
On paper, the Warriors boast a formidable line-up that includes Singapore internationals Madhu Mohana and Shaiful Esah, quality foreigners Jonathan Behe, Kento Fukuda and Nikola Rak and experienced campaigners like Yazid Yasin, Ridhuan Muhamad and Ismail Yunos.
But Razif insists their pedigree will count for nothing if the players do not produce the effort and show desire.
"Since my first session on Saturday, it (his appointment) has been well-received and the players have shown a positive response," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"But looking positive is not good enough… They must show it against Tampines.
"We look like a strong team with experienced players, but the loss to the Young Lions proved this isn't enough."
Razif is no stranger to this situation. The veteran youth coach, who had been with the Warriors since 1999, had taken charge of the senior team on an interim basis twice over the past three years, after the exit of V Selvaraj (2013) and Alex Weaver (last year).
The Warriors are languishing third from bottom in the nine-team standings, but the club's management are still aiming for a top-three finish.
When asked if such a target was still achievable, Razif said: "There are still plenty of matches to be played.
"It's not going to be easy, in fact it will be difficult, but it's certainly not impossible.
"What we have to do is to start winning and, hopefully, the rest will stumble, too.
"A lot depends on (tonight's) game against Tampines… If we can get a draw or even a win, it could lead to more positive results."
Although Tampines are coming off a 2-1 loss to Home United last Friday, Razif is under no illusions over the threat they will pose, although he can at least welcome back veteran goalkeeper Yazid following a two-game suspension.
The 62-year-old explained: "We are aware Tampines have 11 players who used to play for LionsXII, as well as (Jermaine) Pennant, Jordan Webb and Billy (Mehmet)…
"But it is the coach's job to try and exploit weaknesses and that's what we'll have to do.
"I think the team that make fewer mistakes will win the game."