SINGAPORE - Even as he praised the likes of 30-somethings Noh Rahman and Indra Sahdan (both Home United), and Balestier Khalsa's Qiu Li, Singapore national coach Bernd Stange (on the right in photo) had some tough words for the big-name veterans he has omitted from his latest squad.
Forward Qiu Li, 32, and the Home United duo, 34-year-old striker Indra and 32-year-old defender Noh Rahman, were included in the squad he called up on Monday for a five-day stint in preparation for their Group A Asian Cup qualifier against Oman on Aug 14.
Over the last week, The New Paper ran stories about the exclusion of senior players like Mustafic Fahrudin, Daniel Bennett, Shi Jiayi and Shahdan Sulaiman, while youngsters such as Adam Swandi and Khairul Nizam were drafted in.
While he maintained that "the door will always be open", Stange said on Monday: "I have a question for journalists who ask me this stupid question.
"Some of these players are 34, 35 and they had their chance to make it to the next round of World Cup qualifiers.
"Did they do it? No. They lost all their matches. Did they qualify for the Asian Cup? No, they did not.
"Do you give me the guarantee that the 35-year-olds now will make a big jump (in standards)? "No, that's not our future.
"The youngsters we have will improve - they will have the chance."