Warriors FC may have finished fifth last year in a faltering attempt to defend their title, but ardent supporter Ian Koh believes the club have what it takes to turn their fortunes around this season.
What gives the 36-year-old fan confidence in his club’s title hopes this year is the return of several former players.
Both Zulfadli Zainal and Ismail Yunos, two members of the Warriors 2014 title-winning squad have returned to the Choa Chu Kang Stadium after a year, along with former long-serving players Shaiful Esah and Hafiz Osman.
The return of the quartet is aimed at beefing up a defence that conceded the most goals in the league last year with 51.
Already, Warriors have won three out of three preseason matches including a 2-0 defeat of Albirex Niigata (S), scoring 13 while conceding none.
Along with new foreign signings such as centre-back Kento Fukuda, playmaker Nikola Rak and forward Jonathan Behe, Koh is confident that the nine-time S.League champions have what it takes to challenge for the title this year.
“The squad may not have high profile players like Tampines (Rovers) this season; however, it’s the re-signing of former Warriors and new foreign signings that will be the main blood line of the squad,” Koh told FourFourTwo.
“I believe the team will be contenders, especially see how they have started to gel even in preseason.
“I have attended to of their games and I can confidently say that they will not only improve from their fifth-place finish, but will also be title contenders if they continue to play the way they have – for each other, fighting for every ball.
“There’s no reason why that cannot happen.”
While Koh has been impressed with the squad under newly installed head coach Jorg Steinebrunner – the senior service and quality executive says that the German “is indeed the man for Warriors FC” – he also thinks that one player will go on to become the stand-out player for the Warriors this year.
That player is no other than Singapore international Madhu Mohana, who was signed from the now-defunct LionsXII.
“At this early juncture, to be honest, if all the players play as a unit as per Jorg’s (Steinebrunner) instructions, everyone in the team will be key players,” Koh explained.
“But if I had to choose, I would single out Madhu Mohana. Based on the preseason games so far, he fits right into the team, being almost everywhere he needs to be.
“Other teams will need to watch out for him.”
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Photo: Warriors FC