Warriors FC prepare to unleash ex-Europa League striker in S.League
Warriors FC have received a boost to their flailing S.League title hopes, with the signing of forward Andrei Ciolacu, who has represented Romania's Under-21 side, and played in the UEFA Europa League for Rapid Bucuresti.
Due to visa issues, the 24-year-old may not be ready to make his debut against Garena Young Lions at Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday night, but will be an asset to the 2014 champions for the rest of the rest of the campaign.
He replaces Dutch-Congolese striker Joel Tshibamba, who was released after scoring only four goals in eight appearances, and will be supported by key Warriors' attackers Shahril Ishak and Jordan Webb.
Defender Emmeric Ong believes the new recruit has what it takes to deliver the goods for the nine-time champions.
"So far in training, he has shown a lot of hunger and determination," the 26-year-old told ESPN FC. "There are already glimpses that he can be capable of making a difference.
"Of course, whatever that is done in training is different from the actual game, but I'm positive that he will be able to deliver and be the final piece that we have been missing in our team on game day."
It has gone downhill for the Warriors after going the first six games unbeaten. They've lost three of their last five league outings, as well as being knocked out of Singapore Cup at the first hurdle.
The last time out, they fell to a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Tampines Rovers, courtesy of a late Shahdan Sulaiman penalty.
Ong is keen to emphasise the need of stringing together a series of results in order to get back on the title track.
"No doubt consistency has been the problem for us," he admitted. "We can look unbeatable in one game, but struggle to even string a few passes the next.
"I would say that injuries and suspensions have disrupted our rhythm, but we have a good squad depth with experienced players on the bench so we can't make any excuses for ourselves."
Up next for the Warriors is a seemingly straightforward game away against bottom side Garena Young Lions, who have picked up just two points in 11 games this season. They're also missing key man Hami Syahin through suspension for this clash.
However, Ong refuses to underestimate his former employers as Razif Onn's side required three goals in the last eight minutes to edge a seven-goal thriller at Choa Chu Kang earlier in April.
"On paper, it may look like a guaranteed three points for us, but we mustn't forget the fact that it took us a miracle to stage a comeback from 1-3 to 4-3 the last time round," he warned.
"It was indeed a great comeback, but we cannot afford to let our guard down for a second time against a team is that young and hungry to prove themselves ahead of the SEA Games in August."
Warriors are now six points off third-place Home United and 11 behind leaders Albirex Niigata (S). But Ong is not throwing in the towel on their title hopes just yet.
"The second round of fixtures has just started so I wouldn't go to say that this lead is insurmountable," he added.
"Stringing a few wins together will get us right up there challenging again."
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT