Adam out of SEA Games

Adam out of SEA Games
Shahfiq Ghani (in blue) trying to pass Irwan Shah during a training match between Singapore's Under-23 team and their senior counterparts. It ended 2-2.

At the age of 17, he is already capped at full international level and regarded as the next big thing in Singapore football.

But Adam Swandi will not be part of the Republic's 20-man squad to battle for gold at this year's SEA Games.

National coach Bernd Stange confirmed this on Tuesday, as the Football Association of Singapore prepared to submit a provisional list of 30 players to the organisers of the Under-23 tournament.

"We are looking at the long term, both for the player and for Singapore football," the German told The Straits Times.

He added that the fact that the December Games is not a Fifa-recognised tournament made it harder to secure Adam's release from French side FC Metz, while it was also decided that he should concentrate on his studies for now.

"He had already spent two weeks with us earlier this month (for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Syria)," Stange said. "This would have taken him away for another four weeks."

National U-23 captain Hariss Harun agreed that Adam's development has to take precedence at this stage of his career.

The central midfielder was also 17 when he made his SEA Games bow in 2007 and described it as a "good taste of competing in a high-stakes tournament".

But he noted that Adam is also gaining invaluable experience at Metz.

"Playing at that level will prepare him well and he can concentrate on his development. The most important thing is to not rush the boy," Hariss said.

"We all know he's got potential and he will be a key member of the SEA Games squad in 2015."

The class of 2013, meanwhile, already have someone who can play in the hole behind a lone striker - the position which Stange has deployed Adam in his four international appearances to date.

And Shahfiq Ghani showed just what he can do on Tuesday evening in a training match between the SEA Games probables and possibles, mixed with some senior national team players.

Playing three of the four 20-minute quarters, he looked lively when paired with either Syafiq Zainal or Iqbal Hussain.

In fact, it was his link-up play with LionsXII team-mate Syafiq which led to the striker scoring the opening goal of the match.

The game ended 2-2, with Gabriel Quak also getting on the scoresheet for Aide Iskandar's SEA Games side. Sherif El-Masri and Khairul Amri replied for the opposition.

Shahfiq later expressed his delight at being used in his favoured position behind the striker.

"In this role, I can get more involved in the match," said the 21-year-old, who has occasionally been used as a striker for both club and country. "I'm happier in this position and ready to leave my mark on the SEA Games."

fabiusc@sph.com.sg


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