Domestic Competitions ● Apr 27, 2017
Woodlands Eager to Build On Promising Debut Season
After an encouraging debut in the 2016 Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Women‚Äôs Premier League (WPL), Woodlands Wellington are keen to pick up where they had left off for the upcoming season.
The Rams ‚Äì who previously competed as National University of Singapore before coming under the Woodlands Wellington fold as its women‚Äôs team ‚Äì finished sixth out of 11 teams in the league and reached the FAS Women‚Äôs Challenge Cup final, where they fell 0-2 to double winners Warriors Football Club.
Reflecting on their previous season, Woodlands head coach G. Sivaraj felt that his side‚Äôs underdog status gave them the confidence to perform on the pitch.
‚ÄúWe wanted to finish in the top three last season, but we lost quite a number of points and ended up finishing sixth,‚Äù said the 34-year-old.
‚ÄúThe club did not set any expectations for us, but we want to do well because the team has been together for the past seven years, before we were renamed as Woodlands Wellington.
‚ÄúIt was a quite a long season, so I think fatigue started setting in towards the end. Our aim for the Challenge Cup was to reach the top four, so we were delighted to reach the final.
‚ÄúEven though we lost to Warriors by two goals in the last few minutes, it was a good season overall.‚Äù
Looking ahead to the new season, Sivaraj points to Woodlands‚Äô lack of goals as one of the areas that his side needs to improve on. They found the back of the net 57 times last year, which was only the fifth-highest in the league.
The need for goals has also become an urgent concern for Sivaraj as the WPL has become more competitive after it was reorganised to form a two-division structure this season. Warriors, Arion Football Academy, Tanjong Pagar United, Police Sports Association and Woodlands will battle for honours in the
top division, while the remaining teams from the 2016 WPL will be playing in the newly-introduced Women‚Äôs National League along with five new teams.
‚ÄúAside from aiming to finish in the top three this season and reach the Challenge Cup final again, we want to score more goals, which was one thing we did not do a lot last season,‚Äù said Sivaraj.
‚ÄúWe have been working on that a lot during training and if the goals start coming, I think we have a good chance of achieving our objectives.
‚ÄúWe have progressed a lot because we used to be a defensive team, depending a lot on counter-attacks. But as the team grew together, we started playing better football, retaining possession and not depending on certain individuals to get the goals.
‚ÄúWe are a team that attacks through the flanks, but when we see an opponent attacking us, we tend to sit back and play on the counter-attack. So I’m trying to teach them to be more penetrative in the centre and to take shots from outside the box.‚Äù
The two-division structure will see relegation introduced this season, but Woodlands captain Priscilla Tan believes that they have the quality to avoid the drop and was keen to stress that it is not on the players‚Äô minds.
‚ÄúNobody wants to get relegated, especially when there are five very strong teams this year, but it is not an issue for us,‚Äù asserted the centre-back, who also plays for the Singapore Women‚Äôs National Team.
‚ÄúWe have the quality in the team to avoid relegation and achieve a top-three finish. Teams find it difficult to play us as we are one of the fittest teams around, so we are looking to use that as an advantage.‚Äù
Agreeing with Tan, Sivaraj added that he believes Warriors will emerge as champions again this year, leaving the other four teams to fight for a spot in the top three.
‚ÄúI don’t think introducing relegation this year will add more pressure on the girls because we try to be positive and talk about a top-three finish,‚Äù he explained.
‚ÄúWarriors will still remain as our biggest threat, but the other teams are getting better. Tanjong Pagar is still our closest rival because games between us have always been close.
‚ÄúIf you asked me, I would say the fight for the second and third spots will be between us, Arion and Tanjong Pagar.‚Äù
Woodlands will begin their new campaign against Tanjong Pagar United on 21 May 2017 at the Jurong East Stadium.