Singapore Armed Forces are set to be boosted by the availability of Mislav Karoglan and Sufian Anuar as V.Selvaraj’s side look to kick-start their 2013 season against in-form Indonesian Premier League champions Semen Padang on Tuesday in their AFC Cup Group E opener.
The Singapore Cup holders, who were officially renamed Warriors FC earlier this year, have plenty of experience on the continental stage after reaching the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup in 2007 and 2008 while also competing in the AFC Champions League in 2009 and 2010.
The Warriors, though, have suffered an uncharacteristically poor start in the S.League this year after picking up only a single point from their first two games which included a stunning 6-1 home defeat at the hands of Tanjong Pagar United last Wednesday.
But despite that heavy loss, newly-installed head coach V.Selvaraj is confident that his side can bounce back with a good performance against Semen, who have started their own campaign with three straight wins in the Indonesian Premier League.
“We had some injury worries with our strikers Mislav Karoglan (pictured) and Sufian Anuar but they have done their rehab and they should be fit to play,” said the former Singapore international.
“Of course, the heavy loss to Tanjong Pagar has affected us. But we have spoken about that game as a team and we have tried to analyse the reasons for the heavy defeat. We have been doing some things in training and we feel that it has worked quite well.
“There’s a good mood in our team. It’s a break from the usual routine of playing in the S.League and the players have been really looking forward to it. The AFC Cup gives us an opportunity to play against different opponents and in different places so we are looking forward to playing in this competition and the players are very motivated to try to raise their level.
“Semen Padang have some good players in their team and we have spoken about that dangers that they can pose to us, but we feel that we have prepared for the game against them in the right way.
“We hope to at least get past the group stage in this competition so it will be very important for us to get a good result from the game.”
Semen are making their maiden appearance in the AFC Cup after winning the 2011/12 Indonesia Premier League title.
And Jafri Sastrak’s side head into the game having made the ideal start to their domestic title defence, scoring seven times and conceding just once on route to winning three consecutive matches at the start of the new season.
“This is a very important game as this is the first time we are playing in the AFC Cup and we are also playing at home,” said Sastrak.
“We want to get the best result we can as this is also the first time in 20 years our stadium will host an international match.
“The team from Singapore have a lot of good players, but we are confident we can win.”
Hong Kong champions Kitchee already lead the way in Group E after kicking off the campaign with a 3-0 win over India’s Churchill Brothers last week.