Warriors give up on Fadhil, re-sign Neezam

How do you replace a first choice goalkeeper and reigning S.League Player of the Year?

When it comes to Warriors FC and Hassan Sunny, the answer is you don't.

Head coach Alex Weaver has opted to stick with two young goalkeepers who were 2nd choices at their respective clubs last year after a move for Hougang United's Fadhil Salim fell through.

Despite a perceived lack of experience, both Neezam Abdul Aziz and Daniel Ong have been handed the chance to impress between the sticks in a battle for the No. 1 spot after Hassan's move to Tampines Rovers in the off-season.

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Although Neezam had actually been released by the reigning S.League champions after his contract ended, Weaver decided to bring him back after negotiations with Hougang stalled.

It appears that the 23-year-old's familiarity with the club – he was back up to Hassan last year – has given him the slight edge over Ong, who played second fiddle to Shahril Jantan at Home United in 2014.

“We would have chosen to keep him (Hassan) but these things happen in football and we accepted it and moved on,” Weaver told FourFourTwo on Wednesday.

“We’ve got two good young goalkeepers to come in. They just need the opportunity now to show what they can do.

“Neezam has already proved that [he has what it takes] and it will be interesting now to see how he takes on the role of the No. 1 position.

“Last year, realistically he was never going to be it (the first choice) with Hassan here.

“I don’t know 100% for sure if he will be the first choice, but I do know him and he has the advantage over Daniel right now.

Statistics from last year also backs Neezam’s credentials, with the former LionsXII custodian making three appearances in the league and keeping one clean sheet, while Ong failed to feature across all three competitions.

But Weaver feels that the pre-season will provide a platform for both players to battle it out and earn their spot in the first team.

“Both of them have the pre-season to come in and to try stake their claims and I know it will be very competitive throughout the season,” he said.

“When young players are given an opportunity, it’s amazing what they can do; the motivation and psychology of it is totally different.

“It’s very difficult to be a No. 2 knowing you are going to be it for most part of the season, but both of them can see an opportunity now in front of them and I would like to look it as a good situation.

“I’ve already seen Neezam in action and Daniel in training and they definitely won’t fail to impress. I’ve got no doubts about that.”