Must do better. Those are the three simple words that sum up a failed 2010 S.League campaign for the eight time champions. Singapore Armed Forces FC - winners of the last four titles prior to last season - never really mounted a serious defence of their crown and rather let it slip away pretty easily as they ended up finishing fourth in the standings. Instead, the Warriors had to watch as their amazing run of four S.League titles won on the trot crashed to a shocking halt at the hands of French newcomers Etoile FC.
Singapore football's version of a mini-French revolution, Etoile became the first foreign team to lift the league title. The reigning champions will be one of SAFFC's main title rivals again this season, that is, if the French side can maintain a united camp. Either way, SAFFC coach Richard Bok still has plenty of work to do to gee-up his jaded players into once again having that championship winning mentality that was sorely missing in their last campaign - SAFFC finished the season a massive 17 points behind winners Etoile.
SAFFC were too inconsistent during the 2010 season to ever really be considered as serious title contenders, the team had to wait until the second week of June before managing to string two wins together and their defence conceded a total of 41 goals in 33 games - only the seventh best defensive record in a 12-team league. Hardly championship winning stuff.
Observers rightly point out how a busy calendar right up to the Youth Olympic Games in August made it hard for Bok to prepare the team. They point out that SAFFC did finish the season strongly as illustrated with a couple of eyebrow raising results like the 3-0 drubbing of Etoile last October.
Keen to avoid a repeat of last season's disrupted pre-season preparations; Bok has already put his side through their paces in order to be ready for 2011.
Speaking on the club's official website following a 2-1 friendly defeat to Johor FC in January this year, Bok said: "Johor FC always gives us a very competitive game and this was no different.
"It's a very good workout for my boys as most of the new players started or played together for the first time.
"I was able to gauge where we are after four to five weeks of training.
"We lost our rhythm in the second half due to a lengthy stoppage when one of their players was injured.
"But all in all, this was a very competitive game, and we will improve with more games."
Inconsistencies - including 12 games lost - cost SAFFC the chance at defending their title for a fifth straight time and the club finished the 2010 S.League season with just 53 points. Injuries to important players such as Shaiful Esah, Rhysh Roshan Rai and Indra Sahdan did not help things either.
To judge just how poor their haul of 53 points (16 wins and five draws) is from last season, fans only need to cast their eye at their side's previous four championship winning records. In those seasons, SAFFC finished at least 14 points or better than last season's total.
Must do better.
There isn't much to say that hasn't already been written about Richard Bok. Statistics speak for themselves. He's the most successful coach in S. League history, having guided Singapore Armed Forces FC to four league titles - helping himself to three Coach of the Year awards in the process as well.
A former SAFFC player, Bok stepped up to the role of head coach in 2006 after serving as an assistant coach for seven years.
His playing career at the club was cut short due to illness.
Under Bok's charge, SAFFC were the first S. League club to do the double (Singapore League and Cup double) in 2007 and 2008. SAFFC were also the first Singapore club to play in the Asian Champions League which has now become the region's premier club competition.
Choa Chu Kang Stadium
Choa Chu Kang stadium is the current home of the Singapore Armed Forces Football Club but it didn't start off this way. When the S. League began in 1996, the club's home was Jurong Stadium located at Fourth Chin Bee Road. It was only on February 2001 when SAFFC made the move to Choa Chu Kang stadium.
The new home is part of the Choa Chu Kang Sports and Recreation complex which is a multi-sport facility equipped with an Olympic size swimming pool, a running track and athletics facilities, as well as an indoor sports hall.
The main grandstand holds a capacity of 4,000 people and the stadiums most striking feature is its curved white steel roof above the main grandstand.
The football pitch, with its self-watering system from Switzerland, has been approved by FIFA for international competition.
Daniel Hammond (defender)
The 1.94meter tall defender, Daniel Hammond has been brought in this season to shore up an SAFFC defence that leaked over 40 goals last term. Joining from Balestier Khalsa, Hammond is known as no-nonsense style defender who is comfortable playing at right-back as well.
Hammond is a former Cambridge United player.
Mislav Karoglan (striker)
Mirko Grabovac knows a thing or two about putting the ball into the back of the net (an average of 26 goals a season over four years). So when one of Singapore Armed Forces FC's most prolific strikers made a recommendation - the club decided to listen.
Mislav Karoglan will be a newbie to the S. League this season and expectations are high that the 28-year-old Croatian hit man will light up the league with enough goals to fire SAFFC back to another title.
By his own admission, the highest point of his career so far has been playing in the Europa League where he once exchanged jerseys with Croatia international Ivica Olic.
Luka Savic (midfielder)
Serbian midfielder Luka Savic will be something of an ace up coach Bok's sleeves this season. The former Young Lions midfielder will primarily be used as a Prime League player but don't be surprised if you see the youngster pushing for regular first team football if he's good enough - similar to what Japanese winger,Taisuke Akiyoshi did for SAFFC last season.
There is high hope in the Warriors camp that the talented 19-year-old Savic will be able to form a formidable midfield pairing with Croatian Ivan Jerkovic. If Savic can step up to the mark this season for SAFFC, then it would lessen the blow of losing John Wilkinson, and aid their title push.