Football: Christopher van Huizen gets call-up as Lions host two key World Cup qualifying ties

Christopher van Huizen celebrating after he scores a goal for the LionsXII at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Christopher van Huizen celebrating after he scores a goal for the LionsXII at the Jalan Besar Stadium. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - LionsXII winger Christopher van Huizen has received his first senior international call up and will be part of Singapore's 24-man squad for the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

The Lions are currently third in Group E with four points, behind leaders Syria (nine points) and Japan (seven points). They host Afghanistan on Thursday and Cambodia on Oct 13 at the National Stadium.

Van Huizen, 22, is joined by Courts Young Lions duo Amirul Adli, 19, and Anumanthan Kumar, 21, both of whom last played for the Republic in 2014. The average age of the team is 25.5, with 10 players under the age of 25.

Said national coach Bernd Stange said: "Christopher, Adli and Anu are three of our best young talents and they have performed well for their respective clubs in the past few months. Their call-up to the National A Team is testament to the hard work they have put in as well as the significant roles played by their club coaches.

"I am happy to have this squad and these are the best available players. Going forward, I will continue to identify and select more young players for the national team."

Said van Huizen: "It has been a great year for me and I must thank coaches Bernd Stange and (LionsXII coach) Fandi Ahmad for their roles in guiding and mentoring me. I am grateful to them for their trust and confidence in me and I will continue to work hard and keep learning from my coaches.

"In addition, my family and fans also played a key role in my progress during the past one year and it is my wish to see our fans clad in red and pack the National Stadium on both match-days. This is a young team and the fans' support will make a difference to us."

Despite the absence of suspended key players Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin for the tie against Afghanistan, Stange was confident of his team's chances.

Said the German: "We will continue to play our way of football, and our players will have to step up.... This is a young team but I am confident in these boys."

Squad list - Goalkeepers: Izwan Mahbud, Hassan Sunny, Zaiful Nizam. Defenders: Baihakki Khaizan, Madhu Mohana, Amirul Adli, Shaiful Esah, Safuwan Baharudin, Nazrul Nazari, Shakir Hamzah, Faritz Hameed. Midfielders: Christopher van Huizen, Yasir Hanapi, Izzdin Shafiq, Hafiz Sujad, Zulfahmi Arifin, Faris Ramli, Anumanthan Kumar, Hariss Harun. Forwards:Khairul Nizam, Khairul Amri, Shahril Ishak, Fazrul Nawaz, Sahil Suhaimi.