Amended fixtures benefit Young Lions

Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League 2013: Geylang International 0 vs Courts Young Lions 1. Courts Young Lions' Sherif El-Masri (in blue) who scored the winning goal at Bedok Stadium on 30 August 2013. Courts Young Lions beat Geylang International 1-0.

The Young Lions will have four extra days to prepare for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games football competition after tournament organisers confirmed a re-draw of fixtures due to a pullout by the Philippines.

According to a media release by the Singapore National Olympic Council yesterday, Singapore will kick off their campaign against Laos on Dec 8 instead of Dec 4 at the Zayar Thiri Stadium in Naypyidaw, Myanmar.

Their other matches in Group A are against Vietnam on Dec 10, Brunei on Dec 13 before the vital clash against Malaysia on Dec 15.

Singapore Under-23s coach Aide Iskandar felt the amended fixtures would benefit his team.

"The new fixtures will enable us to have more time for team preparation," he told The New Paper.

"One less match (against the Philippines) will allow us to have more rest if we can achieve the objective of getting past the group stage."

CHALLENGE

Peppered with players from this year's Malaysian Super League-winning LionsXII side, the Football Association of Singapore has challenged the Young Lions to make the final on Dec 21.

Singapore have never won the SEA Games football gold, collecting three silver medals and six bronzes since the event's inception as the Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games in 1959.

The Under-23s were drawn in the Group of Death in 2011 with champions Malaysia, powerhouses Thailand and hosts Indonesia and failed to progress to the last four.

However, this year's draw has generally been regarded as a good one for Singapore and winger Gabriel Quak felt that anything less than a place in the semi-finals on Dec 19 would be a failure.

The revised fixtures would see Singapore attempt to negotiate a tight schedule in which they would finish their group games two days earlier than their Group A rivals.

More importantly, should they progress from the group stages, this gives the Young Lions an extra day's rest than their semi-final opponents, who finish their Group B matches on Dec 16.


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