Coach Aide slams fans for 'abusing' Young Lions, urges public to back footballers

SINGAPORE - Singapore coach Aide Iskandar has hit out at certain sections of the home support for "abusive remarks" made against his players during their first three matches, ahead of Thursday's must-win SEA Games football clash against Indonesia.

The former national captain admits his team have not played to their potential, particularly in a hard-fought 3-1 win over Cambodia on Monday.

But he was surprised that his young squad, led by forwards Sahil Suhaimi and Faris Ramli, have come under heavy fire, both at the Jalan Besar Stadium and on social media.

"This is our home SEA Games so we were counting on strong support, but some sections have turned abusive. It doesn't help our team; it actually makes them more nervous on the field," Aide, 40, who skippered the national team to three Asean Football Federation Championship titles, told The Straits Times.

"I've experienced it before as a senior player, but this is an Under-23 team. We try not to hear the negative remarks but it's not easy. We must be united as Singaporeans if we are to reach the semi-finals."

The former defender declined to go into detail on the nature of the abuse he and his players have received, but he pointed to the vociferous support for Myanmar and Indonesia during their matches as an example for Singapore fans to emulate.

With six points from three games and an inferior goal difference, the Young Lions must beat Indonesia (six points) to finish in the top two spots of Group A alongside Myanmar (nine points), who have already qualified for the semi-finals.

nsanjay@sph.com.sg

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