SINGAPORE, 2023, JULY 11 – Lion City Sailors FC made two significant signings during the mid-season transfer window to strengthen their squad in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) and the Asian Football Confederation‘s (AFC) top-tier club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).
Australian centre-back Bailey Wright joined the Sailors on a two-year contract, bringing a commanding presence and defensive prowess. Having been a key player for Sunderland AFC in England, Wright’s leadership skills were evident as he led the team to success in the Papa John’s Trophy and promotion to the Sky Bet Championship. He also represented Australia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, showcasing his international experience. Sailors’ Head Coach Aleksandar Ranković expressed his confidence in Wright’s ability to elevate the team’s performance in domestic and international competitions.
The Sailors’ second signing was forward Richairo Živković, a Curaçao international. Živković added attacking flair and goal-scoring ability to the squad. He recently achieved success with Red Star Belgrade, winning the Serbian league and Cup double before returning to FC Emmen in the Eredivisie. Živković’s experience in top European competitions, including the UEFA Champions League with AFC Ajax and the English Premier League with Sheffield United FC, made him a valuable addition to the team. Coach Ranković commended Živković’s speed, aerial prowess, and overall experience, recognising his potential to trouble opposing defenses.
These signings aligned with the Sailors’ vision of success and their pursuit of trophies. The club’s Training Centre on Mattar Road provided an ideal environment for the players to thrive. Wright and Živković joined a team already enriched with European pedigree, including players like Maxime Lestienne, Diego Lopes, and Ranković himself.
In their debut match against Brunei DPMM FC at Bishan Stadium, both Wright and Živković faced challenges. Wright started the match and was involved an incident with Hakeme Yazid Said that led to his expulsion from the game. Initially cautioned with a yellow card, the decision was overturned to a straight red following a VAR review.
Meanwhile, Živković entered the match as a substitute in the 55th minute, but struggled to make a significant impact on the Sailors’ attack. Unfortunately, he was unable to contribute to the much-needed firepower for the team. The Sailors’ only goal came from Adam Swandi‘s header in the 52nd minute. Despite their efforts, Brunei DPMM responded with goals from Azwan Ali Rahman, Hakeme Yazid Said, and Ángel Martínez, securing a 3-1 victory. It was a challenging debut for both players.