|By Kenneth Tan & Khalis Rifhan
firstname.lastname@example.org | @KhalisRifhan
The 2013 S.League season will be a season of transition for uniformed giants Warriors FC – with long-serving stalwart Richard Bok leaving behind a successful legacy, the onus falls on V. Selvaraj to start a new era.
Results-wise, it has been a mixed start for the assistant-turned-coach so far – the Warriors recorded a slim 2-1 win over Woodlands Wellington at the start of the month and followed that up with a 3-1 defeat against Hougang United last week.
Despite that, the 43-year-old is unperturbed by the slow start, pointing out that the foreign and national team players only returned two weeks ago.
“Facing Hougang was technically our first game,” he told Goal.com Singapore.
“Against Woodlands, players like (Kazuyuki) Toda and (Tatsuro) Inui only played a half, while they played the full game this time. It’s a hard workout and I’m not looking at results yet. I’m actually happy we lost today so that we can learn from our mistakes – two of them resulted in goals.
"You can see we’re not fit yet... It takes time and we still got one more month; I’m sure we’ll sort it out and show good football when the season starts.”
Selvaraj also revealed that he has been able to command the respect of his players in what is his biggest coaching assignment to date.
“The most important thing is the response from the players,” he said.
“It’s been good, the respect for me is there - they understand the purpose of training and what I want from them. I’ve created a system for these players whom are selected by me.
"I told them that if there are any issues, we [will] work and talk it out, and they’ve accepted that.”
On the players front, the squad for the new season was unveiled at a press conference earlier this month, with Selvaraj satisfied at the signature of marquee signing Kazuyuki Toda, who joins compatriots Shimpei Sakurada and Tatsuro Inui at the club.
Taking a closer look at the team lineup, one may worry for the local-born players. With five foreigners and three naturalized Singaporeans (Bah Mamadou, Shi Jiayi and Daniel Bennett) in the squad, they will have their work cut out for them to claim a starting spot.
However, Selvaraj believes that such a situation will only serve to instill more hunger in the side.
“We’re setting lots of objectives in training and they have to compete for every position in the team,” he said.
“If any of them do not work hard in training and matches, they might be replaced - be it the local or foreign players.
"Our training’s based on this kind of desire and hunger and I believe they’re listening.”
Despite losing hitman Fazrul Nawaz, the former national player is confident of the striking options at his disposal.
“I have lost Fazrul, but I’ve a good replacement in (former Lions XII forward) Sufian Anuar,” he explained.
“He’s been showing lots of commitment and his attitude has been excellent. He’s good enough to play upfront with Kari (Mislav Karoglan) as our two main strikers. Kari’s also a proven goalscorer who can make a lot of difference to the team.
"And there is Erwan (Gunawan) who can play to his best if he wants to and keep the rest on their toes. I’m not worried about the strikers part.”
Warrios will embark on a six-day training tour of Bangkok on January 23. They will play Bangkok Glass on the 24th, a Thailand Under-23 side on the 26th and BEC Tero Sasana on the 28th before returning to Singapore one day later.