They were known as Singapore Armed Forces FC (SAFFC) until January 2013, when they were renamed as Warriors FC. The club has its roots in the Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (SAFSA), formed in 1975, but became SAFFC in 1996 when Singapore’s professional league, the S-League was launched. SAFFC are the most successful club in S-League history, with eight league titles, and have finished outside the top two only five times since 1996. They are also four-time Singapore Cup champions, with the most recent crown coming last year.
The club has I-League connections, as former player Kenji Arai has played for Sporting Clube de Goa, while current Salgaocar man John Wilkinson is a SAFFC legend. Their first S-League winning coach Vincent Subhramaniam was in charge of Churchill Brothers in 2010-11. SAFFC have a rich history at continental level also, as they reached the quarter-finals in each of their previous two AFC Cup appearances, and have also played in the Asian Champions League twice, and were the first Singapore club to play in the continent’s biggest club competition.
Their first match as Warriors FC didn’t start well, as they were beaten in the Singapore Charity Shield by reigning S-League champions Tampines Rovers. Warriors FC finished seventh last season, but qualified for the AFC Cup because of their Singapore Cup triumph. The season in Singapore has just started, with the Warriors being held 2-2 by Woodlands Wellington in their S-League opener. Coached by Singaporean V. Selvaraj, the Warriors have a good mix of local and foreign players. Four of their players are also members of the current Singapore senior national setup.
The Warriors have a strong Japanese presence too, with three of their foreigners being from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. One of them is a former Japanese international Kazuyuki Toda. They also have a Bosnian striker in Mislav Karoglan, who finished as the second highest scorer in last season’s S-League. The signings of Singapore internationals Sufian Anuar and Shi Jiayi have also added quality to the Warriors, who have been in decline in recent years, having finished outside the top two for the last three seasons. They will still fancy their chances of reaching the knockout stage, and have faced Indian opposition in the AFC Cup previously in 2007, when they lost to Mahindra United at home but won the reverse fixture.
The English-born central defender is Singapore’s most-capped player with 124 appearances at the international level, and is also the club captain. The 35-year old has been at the club since 2007, and his experience will be vital in their AFC Cup campaign.
The 35-year-old Japanese central defensive midfielder is one of the biggest names ever to play in the S-League, as he has the experience of playing at a World Cup, the Olympics, and has also had a stint with Tottenham Hotspur. Even the Warriors’ opponents will be excited to play against him.
The 30-year old Croatian-born Bosnian striker will be playing in his maiden AFC Cup campaign, and will be aiming to emulate his S-League form from last season. Karoglan, a former Bosnian U-21 international, is Warriors FC’s biggest goal-threat.Published 22 Feb 2013, 18:59 IST