Is Razif the right man for Warriors FC?
Since the inception of the S.League, one club has consistently challenged for honours until recent years.
Cue Warriors FC, formerly known as Singapore Armed Forces Football Club (SAFFC). Record nine-time S.League champions, along with second-place finishes in 1996, 1999, 2001 and 2005. In addition, the Warriors have four Singapore Cup in their trophy cabinet too.
But as the 2016 season comes to an end, the 2014 S.League champions finished way down in seventh place, at least 22 points from the pace set by this year's champions, Albirex Niigata, who still have one match remaining.
The Warriors were not helped by instability within their coaching ranks, with three changes made in the span of one year.
Throughout this time, however, one element has remained constant at Choa Chu Kang stadium — the stay of Razif Onn, the assistant to all the aforementioned coaches.
With the club since 1999, starting as a youth coach before rising through the ranks, Razif has now been given the chance to lead the team proper as Warriors’ management recently announced his appointment as head coach.
Can the veteran bring the Warriors back to where they belong? FourFourTwo takes a look at his record.
First games in charge
Razif was installed as interim coach on two occasions — when Alex Weaver was asked to leave at the tail end of the 2015 season and after Jorg Steinebrunner was sacked midway through this campaign.
There is something many call ‘the new coach’ syndrome, whereby a team makes marked improvement following the appointment of a new head coach.
This proved no different for Razif. After a 2-1 defeat to hated rivals Home United, Weaver was asked to leave the club.
It was the same case again this year, after Razif was asked to lead the team following a demoralising 3-1 defeat by cellar-dwellars Garena Young Lions that led to the Steinebrunner's departure.
Up against favourites and title contenders Tampines Rovers, the Warriors held the Mighty Stags to a scoreless draw.
So all in all, Razif does seem able to lift the squad's morale and help the players move on from previous coaches to secure decent results.
The jury is still out on Razif’s ability to consistently lead his team to points though.
In his first stint as interim coach, Razif managed for five games before the season came to an end and his record wasn't good at all.
Apart from the win over Hougang, Razif suffered three other defeats — including a massive 6-0 hiding by Geylang International in his final game. The only other point he earned was in a 0-0 draw with Tampines Rovers.
That means the 62-year-old only earned four points, or roughly 0.8 points per game.
In his second stint, Razif did slightly better, losing five of his 13 matches and amassing 18 points. While it was half of the maximum points he could have attained, Razif did increase his average to 1.4 points per game.
In fact, he did even better than predecessor Steinebrunner, who only managed to attain 10 points from the 11 games he had in charge. The German lost almost half of his games and only managed two wins during his tenure.
As far as Cup games go, Razif will have to drastically improve his and the Warriors' fortunes in 2017.
The interim coach lost all his Cup matches this season and it did not even look as though his players were trying.
First, they lost all three games in the League Cup group stage before falling to a 1-0 defeat by Geylang in the Plate semi-finals.
In the Singapore Cup, the Warriors exited at the first hurdle after the Eagles once again caused them misery, handing them a 2-1 defeat.
All signs point to Razif being a decent coach and he has shown glimpes of his ability to get more out of his players, although those previously under his tutelage were brought in by his predecessors and might not necessarily have fitted his style.
Now that he has been appointed the head coach for the 2017 season, Razif can look to build his own team and perhaps help the Warriors challenge for some overdue honours in the future.
Photos: Warriors FC