Young Lions set to take pride of place

Young Lions set to take pride of place
Courts Young Lions' striker Sahil Suhaimi at a training session.

Bereft of the best young players and beset by irregular attendances due to National Service, the Courts Young Lions will finish rock bottom in the S-League this season.

That is because the Young Lions have always played second fiddle to the LionsXII, who play in the Malaysian Super League. But that is set to change. With an eye firmly on the 2015 SEA Games gold medal, next year's Young Lions will be the focal point of Singapore football.

The best young footballers eligible to play in the 2015 Games will be taken by the Young Lions, who will play in the S-League.

They will be sent for overseas training stints in Europe, starting with a trip to Turkey next January, before the season starts.

Subsequent tours to France, capitalising on the FAS' memorandum of understanding with the French Football Federation, Australia and Japan are also in the works.

FAS president Zainudin Nordin told The New Paper that the details of the programme are still being worked out.

CHALLENGE

He added: "The Courts Young Lions team will be geared towards the 2015 SEA Games, and we are working out other activities to ensure they are well-prepared to challenge for the gold medal."

The 2013 SEA Games team have been hampered somewhat as players attempt to juggle training requirements and their National Service commitments.

But Zainudin told TNP the FAS is in continual discussions with Mindef to improve the situation for the 2015 squad.

He said: "For those players who are already in NS, we will have to work within the system and have proper negotiations with Mindef.

"But for those who have yet to enlist, we will try to seek short-term deferment for the key players so that they can be prepared for the 2015 SEA Games."

The change in emphasis is likely to mean that LionsXII players such as left back Shakir Hamzah, winger Faris Ramli and striker Shahfiq Ghani will be back in the S-League next season.

As for the LionsXII, Zainudin said that the MSL team will continue to feature a mix of under-23 players who are eligible for one last SEA Games this year, such as Gabriel Quak, and a sprinkling of senior players.


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