Football: Camara in Stange's sights

Atletico Madrid's Javier Manquillo (R) vies for the ball against Singapore Selection midfielder Sirina Camara (L) during a friendly football match in Singapore on May 22, 2013.

SINGAPORE - He would be in my squad on Wednesday if he had a Singapore passport.

With that remark, new national coach Bernd Stange declared his interest in inviting Home United's French defender Sirina Camara to join the Lions, should the 22-year-old eventually receive Singapore citizenship.

Camara has spent the last three years playing in the S-League, and The New Paper reported in 2011 that he was a possible candidate for the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to naturalise.

According to Fifa regulations, a player must spend five years residing in a country and be a citizen there before he can represent it.

On the sidelines of the first day of a week-long training camp on Monday, Stange said: "He needs a Singapore passport... I cannot speak about that.

"But he would play on Wednesday if he was available. Definitely. As long as he's ready and wants to stay, he'll join us.

"He will be 28 when the 2019 Asian Games arrives, the perfect age."

Key role

Camara arrived in Singapore in 2011 with now-defunct French side Etoile, and then signed for FAS' developmental side Courts Young Lions as a foreign player before the start of last season.

He joined two-time S-League champions Home at the start of this season, and has been one of their standout players.

The 1.78m-tall, 70kg Camara has also featured for selection sides that took on a team led by former Japan star Hidetoshi Nakata in 2011, and against Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in May.

He is known for his blistering pace and willingness to get forward and support the attack, the type of players Stange previously said would fit perfectly in his philosophy.

The German coach added Camara's versatility was a major reason he was so keen to draft him into the Lions team.

He said: "You read that (Bayern Munich coach Pep) Guardiola signed Thiago (Alcantara) because he can play in six positions?

"I would like to sign Camara because he can play centre back, left back, left wing and even right wing, where he can play like Arjen Robben, come in and shoot with his left leg.

"He's tall, very strong, very fast, very impressive. He can still work on a few areas, though, like his crossing."

In an interview with TNP last month, the German coach said he would not close the door on foreign talent, but they would not be central in his plans.

"Football cannot escape globalisation," he said then. If we have foreigners who have a Singapore passport, they are welcome in all our teams.

"But ultimately it's our base of youth development, local players, whom we will depend on." But Stange will have to wait some time before Camara is available for selection.

In a best-case scenario, Camara would meet Fifa's residency criterion at the beginning of 2015. But he is not the only potential foreign talent the Lions may be able to draft.

Last month, Balestier Khalsa's New Zealand defender Paul Cunningham told TNP he wanted to become a citizen and represent Singapore at the international level.

The 27-year-old recently became a permanent resident and will meet Fifa's residency rule at the end of next year.

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