Foreign duo Kevin McCann and Miroslav Pejic will play no part in Warriors FC’s Asian campaign, head coach Alex Weaver has revealed to FourFourTwo.
The 2014 S.League winners, who qualified for the AFC Champions League playoffs, retained all five of their foreigners from last season.
However, with AFC competitions using the 3+1 rule (three foreigners and one Asian player) for foreign imports, Warriors will be able to field only three of them as all five hail from Europe.
This means McCann and Pejic, both key contributors in the Warriors’ S.League triumph, will be the unlucky pair missing out.
“We’ve gone a central spine for the side and [this means] we’ve gone with Vida (Marin Vidosevic), Tom (Beattie) and Nico (Nicolas Velez),” Weaver said.
“And that means Peja (Pejic) and Kevin misses out, unfortunately for them.
“It is positional more than anything else. We’ve gone for Tom in [the engine room] there, Vida in the centre-back position and Nico in the centre-forward position.
“It was an extremely tough decision, and probably the most difficult decision that I’ve made since I’ve been here [at this club].
“There’s nothing in it really, but I had to make a decision based on what I think can happen. “
Weaver however, maintained that releasing his foreign players and signing someone else who would fit in with the rules was never an option; instead, he wanted to keep the core of the team to ensure that the club has the best chance of retaining their title for the first time since 2009.
“It’s just difficult for those players but I deliberately chose the players that we’ve had, the foreign players from last year, because I believe we got the right players in here to be successful in the league,” he said.
“For me, to make the Warriors a consistent force in the S.League again is my priority.
“We did very well last year and we want to retain that – we don’t want to see a slump and so keeping the players right for the S.League is important.
While replacing key foreign players like Pejic may prove to be a tough ask, especially against stronger opponents in Asia, Weaver is confident that he has local players who are up to task.
“We will replace him with a Singaporean player,” Weaver said.
“We have to. It’s the kind of situation where we have to move the team around and replace him.
“We’ve got Fazli Jaffar who can do quite a good job, and we have Shi Jiayi and Hafiz Rahim who are quite flexible as well.
“So we’ve got good players who can fill those four [attacking] positions as well.”
Photo: Football Association of Singapore