Speedy winger Andik the biggest threat to Singapore's SEA Games hopes

Andik Vermansah, Indonesia footballer, trains a day ahead of the Suzuki Cup match on 28 November 2012 between Indonesia and Singapore.

SINGAPORE - he is even tinier than the Singapore Under-23s' smallest player, 1.65m winger Nazrul Nazari.

Yet Indonesia Under-23s' pint-sized winger, Andik Vermansyah, who stands at just 1.63m, has been singled out as the biggest threat in Saturday's friendly match at Jalan Besar Stadium.

Singapore Under-23 coach V Sundramoorthy said: "This boy is very nippy, and we really have to deal with him.

"Mentally and physically, we have to be ready for his pace and be ready for battle."

The LionsXII coach's assessment is spot-on.

Considered one of Indonesia's brightest attacking talents and nominated by Soccernet as one of 10 Asian players to watch out for in 2012, Andik was in dazzling form for the senior national team last year, after coming through the youth ranks.

This followed a childhood that saw him sell drinks, cakes and newspapers at stadiums to be able to afford football boots.

In a group-stage match at last year's Suzuki Cup, 21-year-old Andik repeatedly tore Singapore's flanks apart with his turbo-charged runs.

Coming on just after half-time, he duped left back Irwan Shah into committing two yellow-card offences, leading to a dismissal, before he scored a fortuitous 88th-minute winner through a hopeful free-kick.

In the 2011 South-east Asia (SEA) Games, it was also his trickery that led to two Thailand players being sent off before Indonesia beat Thailand 3-1 in the group stage.

His team went on to win the silver medal.

And on Saturday, with the Young Lions' participation in this year's SEA Games largely dependent on a good result, Andik could damage ambitions if he goes on another rampage.

The task of shackling the threat will fall on Singapore left back Shakir Hamzah.

"Fast lah!" was the 20-year-old's immediate response when asked about his thoughts on Andik, nicknamed Mighty Mouse during the Suzuki Cup.

"But there will always be a way to stop this kind of player. We must try to kill the space so that he doesn't have room to operate."

"The first five minutes will be crucial, and we must let him know that he will not have time and space on the ball," added the feisty defender, who managed to shackle Colombian star striker Radamel Falcao when Atletico Madrid visited Singapore last month.

Too fast

Centre back Safuwan Baharudin, who is of the same age as Andik and has crossed swords with the forward since his Under-18 days, added: "On his day, he is too fast to keep out and he is almost untouchable.

"He is small but powerful. It is up to the coach, but maybe we will need two players, one to close him down and one to cover, to stop him."

Despite the obvious threat, goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, who was in goal when Andik scored against Singapore in the Suzuki Cup last November, is still looking forward to keeping a clean sheet.

Izwan, who turns 23 on Sunday, said: "I don't know if he meant to score from the free-kick last year. Maybe he over-hit it.

"But this time, the game will be played at our home ground, and we need a good result to go to the SEA Games, so everybody will have to do his job.

"For me, that means to prevent not just Andik, but also the other Indonesian players from scoring."

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