Skipper Al-Qaasimy's ready for SEA Games success

Skipper Al-Qaasimy's ready for SEA Games success

Over the last two years, Al-Qaasimy Rahman has had the opportunity to play with and learn from some of Singapore football's biggest stars.

He (above, far right) was part of the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games Under-23 side that won bronze in Myanmar and was also in last year's AFF Suzuki Cup squad, sharing the field with established names like Shahril Ishak, Hariss Harun, Baihakki Khaizan and Safuwan Baharudin.

On Monday, it will be his turn to be one of the leading lights, as captain of the Singapore Under-23 football team that will open their 2015 SEA Games campaign in a Group A clash against the Philippines at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Singapore are hosts of the 28th SEA Games and football fans here are hoping Aide Iskandar's men can become the first side from the Republic to win gold in the competition.

While playing on home soil is a huge advantage, it does bring its own kind of pressure, but Al-Qaasimy believes the lessons he has learnt from his seniors will stand him in good stead.

"I've been lucky enough in the past 12 months to have played alongside the leaders in Singapore football," the 23-year-old told The New Paper.

"People like Baihakki, Shahril, Hassan Sunny, Hariss and Safuwan, they are all players I look up to.

"I've observed them and pick up on the traits and characteristics that make them such good players and leaders, and then try to do it in my own way.

"At the last SEA Games, we had players like Hariss and Safuwan and they did well to lead the team to the bronze.

"Now the responsibility is on me to lead the team on home soil and... I'm going to do my best as captain to rally the boys.

"We really want to win the SEA Games gold."

Defender Al-Qaasimy is no stranger to the captain's armband, having skippered the Courts Young Lions in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League since the 2013 season.

The man who handed him the task back then was former Singapore captain and defender Aide, who lifted back-to-back ASEAN titles in 2004 and 2007 with the Lions as a player.

His coach believes Al-Qaasimy has a mature head on his shoulders and backed the powerfully-built defender as the perfect man for the job.

"This is my third year with Qaasimy and he's really grown from strength to strength," said Aide.

"His leadership qualities are showing and it's important because, as one of the senior players in the team, the youngsters look up to him. I think his leadership will be crucial."

Amirul Adli, 19, is a teammate at both the Young Lions and the national team.

He says Al-Qaasimy sets an example on a daily basis for the team.

"In the time I've played alongside Qaasimy, he's been a charismatic leader," Adli told TNP.

"He motivates us through the good and the bad and he's always been there for us, especially the younger ones like myself.

"Every day in training, we're always motivated to work even harder due to the commitment we see from him - it drives us to do so much better."

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