Dilemma for aide

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar - National Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar Saturday will named the two players who will not make it to his final 20-man squad for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games football tournament.

Singapore kick off their tournament against Laos Sunday evening at the Zayar Thiri Stadium in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Speaking to The New Paper at the team hotel last night, Aide revealed his anguish.

"It's really tough for me because every player who has been with me has given his best throughout," said the former national captain.

"I have a good relationship with every player, and all of them have been super.

"But they have to understand that I have to make the best decision for the whole team.

"I hope the players who are left out will be strong enough to accept that."

Aide said the players who will be dropped from the squad, will probably return to Singapore on Monday.

Among those who are at risk of missing out are defender Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman and striker Syafiq Zainal, who were recently down with a bout of dengue.

Defender Shakir Hamzah cut his ankle and required two stitches after a freak accident with his hotel bed.

While he is a doubt for tomorrow's match, it is understood that his spot in the squad is safe.

Not so for winger Gabriel Quak, who has not fully recovered from a micro tear of his right hamstring that he sustained two weeks ago.

Quak told TNP: "Personally, I don't want to think so much. I already feel thankful that coach Aide brought me here to give me a few more days to recover.


"So, whatever it is, I will respect his decision. But if I'm in, I'll definitely give my 200 per cent."

Two players who are definitely in the squad pending availability are defender Madhu Mohana and winger Faris Ramli.

The duo will arrive in Naypyidaw only this afternoon - four days later than the rest of the squad - because of National Service commitments, but Aide did not rule them out playing in tomorrow's match.

He pointed to them encountering similar situations while playing for the LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League (MSL).

Said the coach: "In a way, it's good that they are no strangers to this situation, having experienced this in the MSL, too.

"I'm confident they know how to adapt and be ready."

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