Blow for Singapore Under-23s ahead of Asian Games selection

Blow for Singapore Under-23s ahead of Asian Games selection

If it was an attempt at convincing the authorities that the football team are worthy of flying the Republic's flag at the Incheon Asian Games in South Korea in September, it fell flat.

If last night's match against the Indonesian Under-23 side was the first step on the road to the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games to be held here next June, then it showed that Aide Iskandar and his charges have a steep curve to negotiate.

The Singapore U-23 side fell 2-1 to their Indonesian counterparts at the Hougang Stadium in a match that Aide called a "good workout," but the implications of the result were not lost on the former Singapore captain.

"I'm definitely disappointed with the way we conceded the goals. We need to learn and grow as fast as we can," he said.

"I'm not pointing fingers... or finding excuses, but this is the first time the team are working together. As a team, we will take responsibility."

Best possible line-up

Aide fielded a side made up solely of players who will qualify to represent the country at next year's SEA Games, leaving out a host of players, including the likes of Safuwan Baharudin, Zulfahmi Arifin and Madhu Mohana, who can play at this year's Asian Games. Both the SEA Games and Asian Games football tournaments are U-23 affairs.

"We tried to field the best possible players," said Aide, in response to questions about his squad selection.

"I hope this result doesn't affect (our chances to go to Incheon). I hope we can still convince (the Singapore National Olympic Council)."

The SNOC will meet tomorrow to decide on the teams who will go to the Asiad.

The trio of LionsXII players - Shahfiq Ghani, Faris Ramli and Shakir Hamzah - were the brightest sparks on a night that saw Shahfiq score with a trademark left-footed free-kick in the 36th minute in a positive first half for the Singapore side. But, once the visitors upped the tempo in the second period, Singapore crumbled.

Ramdhani Lestaluhu (56th minute) and Dedi Kusnandar (78th) got the goals to give Indonesia the win and the game ended with some champagne football from the visitors who were in cruise control.

"Expectations are going to be high (for the SEA Games)," said Aide.

"But we still have time."

This article was published on April 3 in The New Paper.

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