Hafiz gets first Lions call-up

SINGAPORE - He stood out from the rest during the Lions' 90-minute training session at the Jurong West Stadium.

While Aleksandar Duric and company wore their black-and-blue training gear, Hafiz Abu Sujad, who turns 22 next month, was clad in a Courts Young Lions outfit.

The captain of the S-League club was among four players called up by national coach Radojko Avramovic yesterday for tomorrow's friendly against India at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.

Fullback Juma'at Jantan and midfielders Firdaus Kasman and Raihan Rahman (all LionsXII) also received the phone call after captain Shahril Ishak, midfielder Safirul Sulaiman and forwards Qiu Li (all knee injuries) and Agu Casmir (groin) all pulled out of the squad.

Speaking to The New Paper, Hafiz, who skippered the Singapore Under-23 team at last year's South-east Asia Games, said: "I was informed by Eugene (Loo, national team manager) yesterday about it and it's my first call-up.

"It's an honour to be called up for the national team and it has always been my dream to play for the Lions.

"I will give my best and try not to put too much pressure on myself if I am called on to play."

The match is part of the Lions' preparations for the AFF Suzuki Cup next month.

They will also go on a week-long tour of Japan before another friendly with the Philippines next month.

Avramovic's men will then play a final tune-up match on Nov 19 - against a team who are yet to be determined - before kicking off their Suzuki Cup campaign against defending champions Malaysia on Nov 25 at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

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