News • February 13, 2016
S.League 2016 Team Preview: Warriors FC
Written by: Alex Weaver
As with so many clubs in the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League, Warriors FC have made numerous changes within the club for the upcoming campaign.
Changes have even been made in both the management and coaching departments with general manager Chong Wei Chiang replaced by Paul Poh, while Jorg Steinebrunner replaces Karim Bencherifa as head coach.
Steinebrunner has already stated that he expects a club like Warriors FC to be competing for all three trophies in the 2016 campaign and now has the tools in which to make a good attempt at that.
Having experienced the difficulties of tight budgets and mid-level players, the German will be looking forward to working with players of a higher caliber than previous stints at Woodlands Wellington and Geylang International.
The playing staff have also been culled, as all of the foreign players that won the title in 2014 such as Marin Vidosevic, Miroslav Pejic, Kevin McCann and Tom Beattie have been released, while Nico Velez departed midway through last season to play in the Indian Super League.
Most of the local players have departed too, such as Irwan Shah, Fazrul Nawaz and long serving captain Daniel Bennett.
A welcome sight for all Warriors fans however, will be the return of Zulfadli Zainal and Ismail Yunos, with the latter being a key signing midway through 2014, where he helped the club lift the title with some excellent performances at right-back.
Zulfadli and Ismail will be joined in defence by former LionsXII centre-back Madhu Mohana, Shaiful Esah, Hafiz Osman and Kento Fukada, with veteran custodian Yazid Yasin in goal as Warriors look to beef up their backline that conceded 51 goals last season.
The creativity of the team will fall to Hafiz Rahim plus new signings Hafiz Nor, Nicola Rak and Ignatius Ang. They will be supported by defensively-minded players like the ever-dependable Emmeric Ong and Poh Yi Feng in the middle of the park.
However, the attacking department looks thin as 27 year-old 1.87m tall French striker Jonathan Behe appears to be the only main striker upfront for the Choa Chu Kang-based club this season, so Steinebrunner will be hoping that he can remain fit for the entire season.
While the Warriors have added quality and experience to their squad, it will be interesting to see if they can mount a serious title challenge, let alone win a trophy this season, with only one recognised striker upfront.
Coach Profile – Jorg Steinebrunner
For any coach, moving to a higher level than previously experienced is exciting. However, the coach would naturally understand that the expectations increase also.
With Woodlands, Steinebrunner took a club that finished third in the previous year under Bencherifa to fifth in 2006 and then seventh and eighth in consecutive years after that.
At Geylang, he took over from Kanan Vedhamuthu to guide the club to an eighth-placed finish.
Despite putting in tons of hard work, he could only manage another eighth-placed finish the following year despite having the likes of Josef Kaplan, Kento Fukuda, Bruno Castanheira and Hafiz Nor.
The German should enjoy working with the squad he currently has and will no doubt win a few more matches than he did last season, which means fans can expect a good race with Tampines and uniform rivals Home United this year.
Star Player – Jonathan Behe
While Behe’s CV doesn’t look very impressive – he only found the net once in 19 appearances for Le Mans and didn’t score a single goal in seven appearances for BEC Tero Sasana – a healthy return of goals in pre-season so far means he is more than capable of finding the net.
Being such a tall player, it is likely that he won’t be wowing the crowds with his pace and flair at Choa Chu Kang Stadium as Velez did, but if he can score the goals that helps the Rhinos mount a serious title challenge, then few will care.
Behe will certainly need quality service and it is likely that Ang and Hafiz Nor will be tasked with providing that, with Fazli Jaffar most likely providing crosses for the tall Frenchman from the flanks.
Without consistently hitting the net throughout his career, Behe will be hoping he has better fortunes with the Warriors and with the club expected to mount a title challenge, Steinbrunner will no doubt be hoping so too.
Poh Yi Feng
Photo courtesy of Warriors FC