Football: Chance for Syafiq and Nizam

Football: Chance for Syafiq and Nizam

It may be a competition with a US$50,000 ($64,000) winners' cheque, but, for the Singapore Under-23 side, the Merdeka Tournament will serve more as an audition for spots for December's South-east Asia (SEA) Games squad.

From a goalkeeper to defenders and midfielders, V Sundramoorthy's side will be missing six key players during the tournament, which runs from this Saturday to Sept 15 in Kuantan, Malaysia.

Skipper Hariss Harun, Safuwan Baharudin, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Izwan Mahbud, Shakir Hamzah and Shahfiq Ghani will all be with Bernd Stange's national team, who will leave today for friendlies against China and Hong Kong.

The absence of forward Shahfiq will probably be felt the most.

Sundram will have goalkeeper Izwan and defender Shakir back after the team's opening game against Malaysia on Saturday, and while there are several players ready to pounce on the opportunity to shine, the Under-23s will make the trip north with just two recognised forwards in the 21-man squad.

Khairul Nizam and Syafiq Zainal, both from Malaysian Super League champions the LionsXII, will bear the burden of goalscoring.

"We're missing several players, and now it looks like this tournament is an opportunity for us to expose players, players who must take the opportunity to show what they are made of," said Sundram, ahead of his side's 90-minute workout at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday night.

"It is their chance to make sure they get selected for the SEA Games in December."

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