SEA Games team will be ready

SEA Games team will be ready
(From left) Coaches S Subramani, Bernard Stange and Fandi Ahmad are in agreement over players' movements ahead of the SEA Games.

Results in the S.League have been poor, with Aide Iskandar's Courts Young Lions showing just one point - a 1-1 draw with Hougang United - from six games.

The majority of the team are in the Singapore Under-23 squad that Aide will lead into battle in June's South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil, and the performances in the domestic competition raised concerns over the side's chances of doing well.

After an 8-1 trouncing by the Japan Olympic team in February, the Singapore Under-23s also crashed 3-1 to unsung Cambodia at home last month.

At present, most fans do not believe Aide's team will achieve the target of reaching the SEA Games final on June 15.

But Young Lions assistant coach S Subramani is confident the team will be ready, as they enter the final stages of preparations ahead of their opening Group A game against the Philippines on June 1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

"The results have definitely not been good, but we are quietly confident we will do well at the SEA Games," the former international defender told The New Paper, on the sidelines of a training session at the Singapore Sports School yesterday.

Mani pointed to newly installed assistant coach Kadir Yahaya as a key move, as the appointment has injected some much-needed team spirit within the ranks.

"The boys have been working hard as we focus on their physical and mental preparation," the 42-year-old added.

"By June 1 we will be ready, but, as in any competition, winning the first game is crucial.

"A win against the Philippines will boost the team's confidence even further."

Crucial right now is for Aide to get back with the squad, after it was revealed yesterday that he was in hospital being treated for dengue fever.

The Under-23s' 30-man training squad will come together for centralised training on May 1, with a tour of Japan scheduled from May 10 to 17.

The final squad of 20 will be announced after the tour.

TOP PRIORITY

Top priority for the team is to form a solid back four - something Mani said is still a work in progress.

Of late, the Young Lions have tinkered with five different players in central defence, including 17-year-old striker Irfan Fandi, whose aerial prowess is critical at set-pieces at both ends of the pitch.

Right-back and team captain Al-Qaasimy Rahman believes the team have started to gel.

"It has been said that our team do not have the same quality as the 2013 SEA Games team (which bagged the bronze), but we are determined to make up for it with great team spirit," said the 23-year-old.

"The centralised training sessions will help bond us even further. We will be at our peak by the time the SEA Games is here.

"That is my team's promise to all our fans."


This article was first published on April 28, 2015.
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