The No. 5 on the back of Adam Swandi's jersey is not a familiar sight.
So at a glance, he was sometimes left mistaken by fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday night during the Singapore Under-23s' opening game of the South-east Asia (SEA) Games against the Philippines.
Since his graduation from the National Football Academy (NFA), Adam had primarily been used as a playmaker associated with the No. 10 jersey.
Known for his excellent technique and ball trickery, Adam and "10" had been a fixture.
The jersey number change came about because Adam had a new role to play; that of being deployed right in the heart of midfield, which saw him spending more time defending and tracking his opponents than dribbling and shooting.
The 19-year-old felt that he was not his usual self when the Young Lions opened their Group A campaign with a 1-0 victory over the Philippines.
Though not completely off-colour, Adam struggled to assert himself in the game and carve out chances for his teammates.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, the youngster was candid about his self-assessment as a box-to-box midfielder.
He said: "I still have a lot to improve on in all aspects of being a central midfielder.
"I didn't do too bad, but I can do a lot more... This is still a new position for me. I started playing there only during the training tour of Japan (three weeks ago).
"It's not a big shift, but I'm used to attacking a lot more."
Adam admitted he was itching to get forward more during Monday's game, where the Young Lions were disappointing in front of goal - but he felt he had to put the team ahead of himself.
"The most important aspect of my role is to defend and win the ball back for my team," he said.
"I quite enjoyed that actually, challenging for the ball and going for headers.
"But I have to look at the situation before I get forward. Sometimes (central midfielder) Safirul (Sulaiman) was already up front, so I had to stay back."
Adam said he had "no clue" if he will keep his place in the starting 11 for tomorrow's Group A clash against Myanmar.
But, since Monday's game, his coaches have advised him to communicate better with Safirul.
Myanmar's stunning 4-2 win over Indonesia last night would have set warning signs off in the Singapore camp.
Coach Aide Iskandar has already called for a big improvement as his team aim to top the group, which also features Cambodia.
The Young Lions were training at the Geylang field during the Myanmar-Indonesia encounter. When told of the score, Adam was nonchalant.
"I'm a but surprised it's such a high-scoring game, but I knew it would be a close fight," he said.
"It doesn't change anything for us. We know we can play a lot better than we did (on Monday).
"But we won and it's a positive start. Now we just have to build on that."
This article was first published on June 3, 2015.
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