SEA Games: Pravin wants to prove a point

SEA Games: Pravin wants to prove a point
Pravin Guanasagaran training at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Most, if not all, of the 30 players in the Young Lions' provisional South-east Asia (SEA) Games squad have had a considerable amount of playing time in the S.League or the Malaysian Super League.

But not Pravin Guanasagaran, who has just 175 minutes under his belt.

And 120 minutes of those limited action have come in the past week, when he played for the Courts Young Lions in the 1-0 defeat by Harimau Muda and 2-0 loss to Albirex Niigata in the S.League.

Currently pursuing an automative diploma in Perth, Pravin (below) returned following the recommendation of the Football Association of Singapore's general manager for youth development S V Rajan, who was also his football academy general manager at the Singapore Sports School.

Pravin's selection in Aide Iskandar's provisional SEA Games squad has raised a few eyebrows, but the 22-year-old is determined to prove that he earned his place on merit.

He told The New Paper yesterday: "I know that there is a keen fight for positions to be in the SEA Games team, and the fact is my appearance has led to another player being dropped.

"I have to show that I'm a good player who deserves to not only be in the team, but also the first 11."

Singapore Under-23s football coach Aide Iskandar explained why he has given Pravin a Courts Young Lions contract until July.

The 39-year-old said: "He definitely has potential. His aggression and ability to pick a good pass will be an asset for our team. He still has to improve on his fitness, and we'll see if he is ready for the SEA Games."

The stout midfielder was a promising young player when he scored six goals to help the Singapore Sports School win the 2008 Man United Premier Cup.

He was then thrown in the public eye when he was drafted into the LionsXII in 2012 after returning from Perth, where his family is based, for National Service.

Looking back at his first taste of professional football - just the one substitute's appearance in the LionsXII's 1-0 loss to PKNS FC in 2012 - Pravin said: "My time with the LionsXII was not just a failure, it was a big failure.

"Because of National Service, I couldn't play, I couldn't even train.

"I was so pissed off because I couldn't show what I'm truly capable of."

And this is not just a young man's boast.

While in Perth, Guanasagaran has been actively playing competitive football for Canning City Football Club in Football West State League Division 1 - the second-highest state-level football competition in Western Australia.

According to the Football West website, he had featured in both the senior and reserves league, and was top scorer for the reserves with 16 goals in 15 games.

He said: "I was playing as a striker, so I could score more goals. To be honest, the league in Perth is not as fast and competitive as the S.League.

"And I'm playing as a defensive midfielder now, which means I have less scoring opportunities.

"But I can still contribute with my aggression, passing and heading abilities, although I still need to work on my match fitness.

"I want to make an impact at the SEA Games and, hopefully, earn a good football contract with a local team."

Despite being based in Australia for the past eight years, the Guanasagarans still consider themselves true-blue Singaporeans and know full well the significance of the SEA Games in the year of the Republic's Golden Jubilee.

He said: "It means a lot to us, which is why my parents allowed me to come back to try to make the team. They will definitely be here if I make the final 20.

"Right now, results haven't been going our way and I know quite a lot of people, even Singaporeans, look down on us.

"But we just have to bring out our teamwork and fighting spirit and prove them wrong.

"It's less than 50 days to go, but we must believe we can achieve good results at the SEA Games."

The Young Lions will gather for centralised training from May 1, and they should also being heading to either Japan or Qatar to prepare for the SEA Games.

FACTFILE

Name: Pravin Guanasagaran

Age: 22

Height: 1.73m

Weight: 73kg

Position: Central midfielder

Previous club: Canning City Football Club, LionsXII

davidlee@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 17, 2015.
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