Football: French test for Asiad hopefuls

Football: French test for Asiad hopefuls

It looks like a national Under-23 side, but has 29-year-old Khairul Amri as their captain.

The team have within the ranks, players who are age-qualified to represent the Republic at the 2015 South-east Asia Games here.

But there are also those who will become too old for Under-23 competitions after September's Incheon Asian Games.

And they will be led by national football coach Bernd Stange, who has called up 18 men to travel to Reunion Island to face France's Under-21 side on Monday.

Against a French side who have won all their six qualifiers for the European Under-21 Championship, the German hopes they can impress the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) enough to earn a spot at the Asiad this year.

"We are not in a position like Malaysia are, where they can have separate teams for specific tournaments, as we don't have that number of quality players available," said the 66-year-old yesterday, explaining the different groups of players in his squad.

"This is like an engine that will help us prepare together (for various tournaments like the SEA Games, Asian Games and November's AFF Suzuki Cup)."

Asian Games rules stipulate that three over-aged players can join a country's Under-23 side at the tournament.

But Stange must make do without some of his best players against the French.

LionsXII trio Safuwan Baharudin, Khairul Nizam and Hafiz Sujad will miss the clash due to injuries, as will Johor Darul Ta'zim's Hariss Harun because of club commitments.

He said: "The authorities should know that all these players need high-quality international games (that they will get at the Asiad), and I hope we can convince them to let us go... with good results, a good plan and good performances."

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