Beware complacency: Aide

Beware complacency: Aide
(From left) National Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar with players Iqbal Hussain and Irfan Fandi examining the draw conducted on 15 April 2015 for the June SEA Games. Singapore, bronze medallists at the 2013 Games in Myanmar, have been drawn in a relatively easier Group A with Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Singapore's quest for an elusive football gold medal at the SEA Games received a boost yesterday after the Young Lions were handed a favourable draw.

But despite the Republic having avoiding fancied teams like Malaysia, Vietnam and defending champions Thailand, national Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar cautioned that the biggest opponent could well be a familiar foe - complacency.

The Young Lions' recent 1-3 loss to Cambodia's U-22 team shocked regional football circles.

And after being drawn in the seemingly easier Group A - comprising Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines - Aide warned his charges about taking the games lightly.

"Group B looks tougher but you cannot underestimate any opponent in our group," said the former national skipper.

"Sometimes, the easy opponent could be your toughest match. I will definitely instil (that concept into) our boys to make sure they don't get complacent.

"Complacency could be our toughest opponent."

Singapore took home a bronze when the biennial Games were last held in Myanmar.

But this time round, with the Games being held on home soil, the target is gold - although the immediate goal is to get the better of Indonesia and Myanmar to top Group A.

Irfan Fandi, eldest son of footballing icon Fandi Ahmad, said the enormity of the occasion can feel overwhelming.

The 17-year-old, who recently starred for the U-23 side, said: "I'm very excited, but at the same time, there is some pressure. I think it'll be fine after a while."

Besides football, team draws were also conducted yesterday for volleyball and water polo. The team draw for basketball will be conducted during the South-east Asia Basketball Association Championship at the end of the month.

Other team sports do not require draws based on the entries.

The men's volleyball team are hoping to overcome the jitters of competing at the SEA Games for the first time since 1993 and to attain a top-four finish.

Said captain Javier Poon, 27: "It's the first time any of us are participating in such a big regional competition, and we're thankful to be given the chance to do so.

"We are expecting tough competition against Indonesia and Vietnam since they were silver and bronze medallists at the last Games (but) we'll try to beat at least one of them."

The men's water polo team, meanwhile, will be aiming for a 26th successive SEA Games gold.

Captain Eugene Teo said the squad will be travelling to Japan in a week for training, adding: "We all know who the teams are so it (the draw) just readies us for the matches. We'll be training hard for the gold, that's for sure."

With about 50 days to go before the official opening of the Games on June 5, Nicholas Fang, one of two chefs de mission for Team Singapore, said both aspects - athlete preparation and Games organisation - remain on track.

"The team draw brings home the fact that we're coming very close to the Games. We're seeing good excitement in the spectators and teams are also preparing well," he said.

"I think we're on track for a very good Games come June."

This article was first published on April 16, 2015.
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