Warriors to fight for 10th championship
Coach Steinebrunner confident his new-look team will be challenging for honours
Warriors FC may have undergone several changes since finishing a mediocre fifth in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League last year, but few have forgotten that they are still the most successful side in the history of the competition.
While they are in transition - on and off the field - the Warriors are focused on returning to the glory days that saw them lift the league trophy a record nine times.
"We're on a mission and I see it as something positive, being part of a club with such a history," said Warriors coach Jorg Steinebrunner.
"We're not going out and saying that we will win things, but we definitely want to be challenging for silverware."
The German has brought defender Hafiz Osman back to the Warriors - after spending four years at Tanjong Pagar United and Geylang International - and the 31-year-old is delighted to return to a tradition of success.
"I left in 2011 and I can't deny that it has been my dream to come back," said former Singapore international Hafiz, who won four league titles with the Warriors - then known as SAFFC - between 2006 and 2009.
REPAY CLUB'S FAITH
Steinebrunner, the former Woodlands Wellington, Sengkang Punggol and Geylang coach, may have landed the Warriors' top job only after Moroccan Karim Bencherifa was denied a work permit last month, but he is confident of repaying the club's faith in him.
"Every club come with a different challenge," he said. "Now, at one of the league's big clubs, this is also a challenge, but of a different dimension.
"Warriors are a club with an objective to win things and I will try my best to bring the club back to where we want to be."
The Warriors have signed two foreign players with European experience - Nikola Rak and Jonathan Behe - but the key to success lies in the head rather than just at the feet of his charges.
"I want to see the boys keep plugging at it until the final whistle, whether we're winning or chasing the game," said Steinebrunner.
"If we keep believing, pushing our limits, I won't be able to ask for more. With that attitude, I believe the results will come."
- Last season's finish: 5th out of 10 teams
- TNP's prediction for this season: 6th out of 9 teams
- Key players in: Yazid Yasin, Kento Fukuda (both Geylang), Madhu Mohana (LionsXII), Shaiful Esah (Tampines), Nikola Rak (NK Lucko, Croatia), Jonathan Behe (SC Toulon-Le Las, France)
- Key players out: Fazrul Nawaz (Tampines), Daniel Bennett (Geylang), Miroslav Pejic, Thomas Beattie, Marin Vidosevic (all released)
- Man to watch: Madhu Mohana (left). The Warriors were the league's worst defensive team last year, conceding a whopping 51 goals. That is why they have swooped for former LionsXII central defender Madhu to organise a new-look defence. He will pop up at the other end for a few goals, too.
- The coach: Jorg Steinebrunner. No stranger to Singapore football, having played here before stepping into coaching roles. But, having led underdogs Woodlands Wellington and Sengkang Punggol, the Warriors are his biggest assignment yet. His new-look team won't have it easy trying to add to the Warriors' record nine S.League titles.
FIRST FIVE FIXTURES
- Sunday (7.30pm): Home United v Warriors (Bishan Stadium)
- Feb 19 (7.30pm): Warriors v Tampines Rovers (Jalan Besar Stadium)
- Feb 27 (8.15pm): Brunei DpMM v Warriors (Bandar Seri Begawan)
- March 4 (7.30pm): Warriors v Garena Young Lions (Choa Chu Kang Stadium)
- March 11 (7.30pm): Balestier Khalsa v Warriors (Jalan Besar Stadium)