|By Khalis Rifhan
Eight-time S.League champions Warriors FC (formerly known as SAFFC), officially announced their squad for the new season at its pre-season community fanfare, ‘Warriors Football Carnival’ on Sunday afternoon.
The event, which was held at Lot One shopping mall, saw new coach V. Selvaraj being introduced to the fans first. The former Singapore international replaces Richard Bok, the club's longest-serving coach whose contract was not renewed by the management at the end of last season.
It will be Selvaraj’s first assignment as head coach of a S.League club, having previously taken charge of the club’s Prime League squad in addition to assisting Bok.
The club has retained their entire foreign player legion with the exception of Marin Jonjic, who was released as the Croatian was not eligible to play in this season's Prime League due to his age.
Japanese duo Shimpei Sakurada and Tatsuro Inui, who formed a telepathic and creative partnership in midfield last season, will be joined by former Japan international Kazuyuki Toda, who arrives as a ‘marquee’ player.
The Warriors have also retained the services of Croatian-born Bosnian striker Mislav Karoglan and signed 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup winner Shi Jiayi, formerly of Home United.
Karoglan will have a new partner for the new season after Fazrul Nawaz and Sufian Anuar swopped clubs, with the former joining the LionsXII and the latter moving the opposite way.
The Warriors defence, which conceded a staggering 41 goals - only three goals less than bottom-placed Woodlands Wellington - will continue to be marshaled by captain Daniel Bennett and Croatian Marin Vidosevic.
Defender Noh Rahman and goalkeeper Shahril Jantan moved to Home, and the veterans have been swiftly replaced like-for-like by LionsXII duo Abdil Qaiyyim and Hyrulnizam Juma’at.
The Choa Chu Kang-based side, who finished seventh in 2012, will represent Singapore in the AFC Cup competition after winning the Singapore Cup.
They were drawn together in Group E with Kitchee (Hong Kong), Semen Padang (Indonesia) and the Churchill Brothers (India) and will kick off the campaign with a trip away to Indonesia on March 5.
Warriors FC 2013 S.League squad list: