Football: Aide to be SEA Games coach

Football: Aide to be SEA Games coach

Last year, he matched the achievements of V Sundramoorthy and Terry Pathmanathan when he guided the Singapore Under-23 side to a bronze medal at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Myanmar.

Aide Iskandar currently leads the Courts Young Lions in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.

They are an Under-23 side being prepared to fire up the nation when Singapore hosts the 28th SEA Games in June next year.

The Republic have targeted a first gold medal in football at next year's Games, which will be held at the new 55,000-capacity National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Besides Aide, names like Sundram, Fandi Ahmad and national coach Bernd Stange have also been bandied about as possible candidates to lead the team in their gold-medal mission.

Yesterday, Stange confirmed that former national captain Aide will indeed lead the team next year.

"Yes, Aide will be the SEA Games coach," said the German, on the sidelines of the national U-23s training session for tonight's international friendly against their Indonesian counterparts, who will be heading off to the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in September.

After returning home with a bronze from last year's SEA Games, the U-23s are much changed, with 12 of the 20-man side from the Myanmar campaign no longer eligible.

Speaking to The New Paper last night, former defender Aide said: "I am the SEA Games coach but, in football, you never know."

Moments earlier, he ran alongside Sahil Suhaimi on the track at the Hougang Stadium in a bid to inspire the 21-year-old to pass the S.League's mandatory 2.4-kilometre fitness test.

Aide has likened the talented forward's attacking verve to that of former Singapore star Ahmad Latiff and, while the youngster is perfectly comfortable dealing with the intensity required on the football pitch, Sahil just cannot seem to pass the running test.

COLLAPSING

Despite Aide setting the pace in the sixth and final lap, Sahil faltered, crossing the line seven seconds past the passing grade of 10 minutes, before collapsing on the track.

Sahil has failed the official test five times, clocking between 11min 30sec and 10min 12sec.

Last night, Stange reiterated his stand that players who cannot pass a fitness will not wear the Republic's flag on their chest.

"Only players who are fit will play at the international level. If he does not pass, I will not allow him to set foot on the pitch," said the 65-year-old.

Sahil's struggles remain a mystery, considering 35-year-old former national skipper, Indra Sahdan, returned to training for Home United after suffering a broken leg in September last year and passed the test on Monday.

"There's nothing to hide. Sahil will, for sure, not even be on the bench," said a dejected Aide, who squad size is now down to 22.

Goalkeeper Abdul Qadir continues to struggle with an ankle injury and has been replaced by LionsXII midfielder Ignatius Ang, leaving Aide with two shot-stoppers.

While Stange has taken a tough stance on fitness, he vowed to help young Sahil - who has not played a single minute in the S.League since the competition kicked off in February - to get back onto the pitch.

"It is a difficult situation, but we will do everything we can to support him with his fitness," said Stange, who has already placed Sahil on extra fitness sessions with national fitness coach, Aleksandar Bozenko.

"He must pass the test as soon as possible, otherwise he cannot represent any team."

shamiro@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 2 in The New Paper.

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