The 2023 season was one to remember for the Lion City Sailors as the club picked up its first-ever Singapore Cup trophy, on top of an encouraging second voyage into the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)  Champions League (ACL) that saw Hariss Harun and his men score victories over two-time ACL winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at Jalan Besar and away against Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC. 

But the ambitious Sailors have already set in motion to ensure a more successful 2024.  

The club aims to dominate local football by reclaiming the Singapore Premier League (SPL) title last won in 2021 and further establish itself amongst the continent’s elite in the AFC Champions League 2 (ACL 2) competition. 

AIA Player of the Year Maxime Lestienne will play a key role in this. 

The Belgium attacker has penned a two-year contract extension that will see him stay in Singapore till 2025, leading a Sailors side bidding to create history in the years ahead. 

Hafiz Nor, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Hami Syahin and Adib Azahari have also pledged their futures and will be Sailors until 2025 alongside Magic Max.

The vastly-experienced Hafiz has been with the club since its 2020 inception and is the Sailors’ highest-appearance maker with 91, while Zulqarnaen and Hami enjoyed the 2023 season and are beginning to hit the peak of their careers. 

The move to refresh the squad as the Sailors look to the future – and also in anticipation of revised foreign player quotas for the 2024 SPL and beyond – will see six players depart the club. 

Diego Lopes, Manuel Herrera López (Súper) and Kodai Tanaka leave the newly-crowned Singapore Cup champions, along with Rusyaidi Salime and Rudy Khairullah following the expiry of their contracts at the end of the year. 

The club has also agreed to mutually part ways with Pedro Henrique, with the 30-year-old defender embarking on a new adventure back home in Brazil.

The Sailors are currently in the midst of shortlisting potential signings both locally and from overseas to build on the existing squad. 

The Sailors’ gaze remain firmly on becoming one of Asia’s top clubs and are recalibrating to ensure a more successful season in the upcoming one.