S.League: Fresh faces, same challenge

They finished 12 points clear of their Singaporean counterparts at the foot of the table, and Harimau Muda B are looking forward to getting the better of Courts Young Lions once again in this season's Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.

"There will always be that keen competition because of the Causeway rivalry," said Harimau Muda B coach Razip Ismail.

"But we were disappointed to finish 11th out of 12 teams and we want to finish higher than some of the senior teams as well."

It was a mixed bag of results last year for Malaysia's Young Tigers.

They finished the 2013 season with eight victories, including impressive wins over top-six sides - a double over Woodlands Wellington and a 3-0 victory over Tanjong Pagar.

They also edged the Young Lions in the League Cup plate final to bring home a piece of silverware.

However, in the final half-round of league fixtures, Razip's boys just could not find another win in five matches as they dropped from ninth to 11th place.

Said the 51-year-old coach: "I felt we played well, even against the big teams, but sometimes we just could not get a result."

It will not get easier for Razip, as fewer than five players from last season's squad have been retained, with key names like midfielders Ridzuan Abdunloh and Faizat Ghazli promoted to the Harimau Muda A side, and many others poached by M-League teams.

The likes of Afiq Fazail, younger brother of Malaysia Under-23 captain Irfan, as well as Nor Azam Abdul Azih, have been recruited from Johor FA and Pahang, respectively, to boost the S.League side's engine room.

"It's very tough as the majority of the squad are new Under-21 players from M-League youth teams who have never played at this level," said Razip.

"This is not to say they are not good players.

"We have scouted the Malaysian teams for young footballers who show maturity and are good with the ball at their feet.

"I just hope they can learn fast, settle down early and be more consistent than we were last season, so we can surprise some teams."

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