S.League: They're set to turn nasty

GOING MENTAL: The Warriors, like Jeremy Chiang (in blue), will not be nice to opponents anymore.

SINGAPORE - They are hurting.

A solitary trophy in the last four seasons is nowhere near good enough for Warriors FC, the most successful team in the 18-year history of the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S.League.

After a paltry seventh-placed finish in 2013 rubbed salt in already raw wounds, Daniel Bennett, skipper of the Choa Chu Kang outfit, is putting his foot down.

“We cannot be seventh again — this is the Warriors, and that is just unacceptable,” said the Singapore international, who has been capped 128 times.

“I want to win something again, I want to win badly — I hope that feeling rubs off on the boys.”

After four straight S.League titles between 2006 and 2009, the Warriors went through major changes in 2010 and have yet to find their way back.

The RHB Singapore Cup win in 2012 is their only piece of silverware in what has been a long transition.

“I love the fact that there’s a lot of history at the club. It keeps pressure on the players and will help them stay sharp, knowing just who they are playing for,” said coach Alex Weaver, who is into his first full season at the club.

CHARACTER

“They will need to show character and strong mentality to deal with that.”

Bennett, 36, is leading that charge towards mental fortitude.

He said: “The ability in this squad is up there with the best of them. What we need is attitude.

“What we need, really, is nastiness, because if you’re nice, opposition teams will eat you up.”

The Warriors have one thing going for them — they start the season well below the radar.

“People are looking at teams like Tampines Rovers and Home United to deliver, and rightly so, but that means there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on them,” said Weaver.

“Being underdogs could be a good thing.”

Both Weaver and Bennett are expecting 2014 to be more competitive, but are equally confident that the Warriors can begin the trek back to the top.

“This is a team that can play, and can score goals,” said Bennett.

“We’re not the club we used to be and it’s never easy to get back to where you were.

“But we’re slowly getting there.”

KEY TRANSFERS

In: Hafiz Rahim (MF, Geylang), Irwan Shah (DF, LionsXII), Tom Beattie (MF, English, Hougang), Kevin McCann (MF, Scottish, Raith Rovers), Miroslav Pejic (FW, Bosnian, NK Lucko), Nicolas Velez (MF, Argentinian, Atletico Sanluqueno)

Out: Mislav Karoglan (FW, Bosnian, NK Imotski), Shimpei Sakurada (MF, Japanese, Yandanarbon), Tatsuro Inui (MF, Japanese, Sagamihara), Kazuyuki Toda (MF, Japanese, retired), Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK, Tampines), Sufian Anuar (FW, LionsXII), Shukor Zailan (MF, released)

ONE TO WATCH

New signing Hafiz Rahim was arguably the best local player last season, pulling the strings in a Home United team alongside Lee Kwan Woo. At Warriors, he will be expected to do the same.

shamiro@sph.com.sg


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