Football: Adam fit and ready to lead U-21s' Nations Cup charge

Adam Swandi, who fractured a cheekbone and was out of action for more than a month, returned to action last Sunday in an RHB Singapore Cup match.
Adam Swandi, who fractured a cheekbone and was out of action for more than a month, returned to action last Sunday in an RHB Singapore Cup match.THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

Having not played a full match since April 21, Singapore's Under-21 midfield linchpin Adam Swandi is raring to go in the inaugural Nations Cup, which kicks off in Malacca today.

His side will take on Causeway rivals Malaysia in their first game of the quadrangular tournament tonight, while Thailand play Vietnam in an earlier fixture.

The Garena Young Lions midfielder, who was out for about a month after fracturing a cheekbone in his side's 0-2 loss to Balestier Khalsa in an S-League match, said: "It has been quite a short time since I recovered. I played against Ceres last Sunday, and I've had about two weeks to recover and play with contact.

"It was a bit hard at the start because I was out for a while and had to rest, but now I'm fully fit and ready to go."

The 20-year-old made his comeback in Sunday's 1-3 loss to Filipino side Ceres-La Salle in the RHB Singapore Cup, coming on in the 72nd minute.

"Having Adam fit is important for us because he has experience with the senior side, has trained in Europe and he will guide the younger players on the pitch," said Singapore's U-21 coach Richard Tardy.

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Tardy is confident the Young Lions will put in a good performance, but stressed that results are not the most important thing for now.

"We need to look at what we do, and how we do it.

"It is a one-year target for us (in reference to next year's SEA Games), so now we will focus on the spirit of the team.

"It is a good time to test our players and make sure they have the fighting spirit," he said.

"If we show good spirit like we did against Iran in March (the team lost 0-1 and 0-2), then I can say we put in a good performance."

The coach will be counting on his more experienced players like Swandi, skipper Ammirul Emmran and defender Amirul Adli to lead the charge against the young Tigers, whom he feels will provide a stern test for his side.

"Many of them play in the first or second division (of the Malaysian league), so I think experience-wise they are not lacking, and will be a good gauge for our team," he said.

"They beat Philippines' U-21s 4-1 and drew with Nepal 1-1 recently. My assistants and I watched those games to see how we will approach them. It is important that we can respond positively on the pitch."

NATIONS CUP

Thailand v Vietnam: 4.40pm
Malaysia v Singapore: 8.40pm
- Singtel TV Ch110

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline 'Adam fit and ready to lead U-21s' Nations Cup charge'. Print Edition | Subscribe