Aide's 5 musketeers

Aide's 5 musketeers
Under-23 team head coach Aide Iskandar.

The challenge for them at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games is demanding, to say the least: Try to win a first football gold for Singapore.

After a string of disappointments in recent months, most in this football-mad nation don't believe the Singapore team can pull it off.

But national Under-23 team head coach Aide Iskandar believes in his boys, and before the squad left for Japan yesterday for a week-long training camp, the former national skipper told The New Paper he has appointed five leaders to make sure squad morale remains high as they attempt to make history.

The five are goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari, defenders Al-Qaasimy Rahman and Shakir Hamzah, midfielder Safirul Sulaiman and striker Shahfiq Ghani.

Speaking on the sidelines of a special send-off for the team at Changi Airport's Terminal 2, Aide said: "They are the senior players in the team, and have the most experience. They've played for the Young Lions and LionsXII, and I know they can be leaders.

"During my time as a young player, Kadir (Yahaya), Fandi (Ahmad), David (Lee) and Malek (Awab) were the four main leaders of the team.

"They ensured the dressing room was happy, and that's what I want my five captains to do.

"Of course, in the course of preparing for a tournament like the SEA Games there will be a few unhappy moments, but the key is getting through those times together and emerging stronger as a unit."

Honoured by the additional role he has to play, Syazwan said: "It feels good to be among those coach Aide has given the responsibility and it shows he has a lot of trust in us."

The 22-year-old shot-stopper is said to be the most straight-laced player in the team.

"I'm the one who likes to keep things running," he said."Shakir and I are quite firm, and we will chide someone if he's not doing something right.

"Yeah, you could say I'm the most serious. But the only reason for that is I badly want us to do well."

Right back Al-Qaasimy, 23, is a leading contender for the skipper's armband.

"I'm not much of a guy who dictates as captain," he said. "I'm very easy-going, open, and maybe even soft-spoken. I listen to my teammates' views."

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