S.League: Ready to roar

The football was pleasing to the eye during a training session on a cool evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium earlier this week.

The season may not have started yet for the Courts Young Lions, but Aide Iskandar's charges are already raring to go for the 19th edition of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.

After finishing last in the 12-team league last season, the developmental team - which are also being prepared for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here next June - have reason to be more optimistic about their upcoming season.

The Under-23 side just came back from a month-long training stint in Turkey, where they drew three matches, won two and lost a game against top European sides such as Denmark's Under-21 team.

Former national captain Aide said: "It is one of the best pre-seasons I've had so far... the boys learned a lot on and off the pitch.

"These young players are at the crossroads. They will soon turn professional or do something else, so it was a great opportunity to learn from the top teams in Turkey, in terms of style of play and the physicality of the game."

Captain Al-Qaasimy Rahman said that the intensity of the stint gave the team more fitness and confidence for the gruelling season ahead.

The 21-year-old defender said: "In Singapore, we would have our other commitments such as school and National Service but, in Turkey, we were purely focused on football and trained twice a day.

"We really gained a lot of confidence and we will try our best to improve (on our league position this season)."

With the departure of key players such as centre back Afiq Yunos and captain Raihan Rahman, the Young Lions will now look to playmaker Sahil Suhaimi to pull the strings together. His star began to shine towards the end of last season after completing his NS, and he did well in Singapore's bronze medal-winning campaign in last December's SEA Games.

Asked about the intensity of the training session this reporter saw at Jalan Besar, the 21-year-old smiled and said: "We have been like that since we returned from Turkey.

"Somehow, we just don't feel satisfied unless we give our 100 per cent."

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