SEA Games-bound players can join up with LionsXII for first leg of semi-final
THE results in the lead-up to the 2015 SEA Games may have been disappointing but Singapore Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar retains the full support of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) ahead of the biennial Games.
Yesterday, the FAS held a press briefing at the Singapore Sports School (SSP) to clear the cloud of confusion that lingered over the availability of at least four Singapore U-23 players for the LionsXII’s Malaysia FA Cup campaign.
The SEA Games football team will begin their centralised training at the SSP on Friday, before jetting off to Japan for a training tour from May 10-17.
However, the quartet of Zakir Samsudin, Faris Ramli, Christopher van Huizen and Sahil Suhaimi will be able to book out from the training on May 7 to join the LionsXII.
They will also be able to play for the LionsXII in the first leg of the Malaysia FA Cup semi-final against Terengganu on May 9 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The next day, the four players will travel with the rest of the SEA Games squad to Japan, meaning that they will not take part in the second leg on May 16.
Aide was pleased to have reached a consensus on the matter.
“Coach Bernd Stange, (LionsXII coach) Fandi Ahmad and I had in-depth discussion and all of us agree that it would be a good psychological boost for the four if they can play in the FA Cup semi-final.” he said in a press release.
Speaking at the press briefing, Fandi was similarly happy with the outcome.
He said: “It is good for (the four players). They need time together with the SEA Games team and it is also good that they get the chance to play at least one (leg).
“We are all committed for the SEA Games and hopefully this is our year.”
One player whose fate is still unclear, however, is defender Shakir Hamzah.
With the Malaysian Super League transfer window closing at noon today, the LionsXII are hoping to register the player in time.
The centre-back was initially named captain of the Courts Young Lions and Singapore U-23 side but has since been stripped of the armband.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Shakir is eager for the move as well. “Of course, I want to play for the LionsXII because the quality of football is much higher in Malaysia,” said the 22-year-old.
“But no matter what, whether I play for coach Aide or Fandi, I will give my 100 per cent.”