Match of the week

Football: Still no Amri, but Young Lions eye second win

Young Lions forward Fareez Farhan, who has two goals to his name this season, will be expected to take on the mantle of scoring against the Protectors in Khairul Amri's absence.
Young Lions forward Fareez Farhan, who has two goals to his name this season, will be expected to take on the mantle of scoring against the Protectors in Khairul Amri's absence. TNP FILE PHOTO

S-LEAGUE

Home United v Garena Young Lions Bishan Stadium, 7.30pm

He is one of Singapore's most experienced players, with 103 caps for the Republic. Having joined developmental S-League side Garena Young Lions from the LionsXII this season, Khairul Amri must have expected to play a big role in guiding his inexperienced team-mates.

Instead, in the past month, Amri has been a peripheral figure on the sidelines, with his role restricted to giving verbal encouragement to his team-mates, while the second-from-bottom Young Lions struggle in the S-League.

"I think it's very frustrating because as footballers, we want to play every minute and every match," said the 31-year-old, who is still undergoing rehabilitation for a calf injury and is expected back in the first XI only next month.

"As this is a young squad, they need an experienced head on the field.

"Sometimes, it's frustrating to see them miss chances that maybe I could have put away. But when you think again, you realise that they have never been in those kinds of one-on-one situations as professional players before. This is an inexperienced developmental team and we have to give them time."

"Right now, I'm playing more of a mentor role for the team," he explained.

"From the first day, I have been talking to them and guiding them about what it takes to be a professional player.

"I hope they can also learn by observing the way I work on the field (when I return)."

In Amri's absence, young striker Fareez Farhan has stepped up, scoring both of his team's goals in their five games. But the 21-year-old says he can barely wait for his injured team-mate to be back in action.

"Amri is definitely the best striker we have in Singapore currently. He has done so much for the country and scored so many vital goals. It's a big plus point for any team to have him," he told The Straits Times.

"His injury is a big loss as he's such a good role model and has bags of experience. There's so much that we can learn from him and the team has definitely missed him badly," he added.

Garena Young Lions will still be without their main striker when they take on bottom-placed Home United at Bishan Stadium today, but Home coach Philippe Aw insists his side will not be taking their opponents lightly.

"They may be young, but young teams have an abundance of energy and desire," he said. "If we think it's going to be a stroll in the park, we will get beaten."

Home are still winless in the league, with two draws and two losses, and Aw hopes their finishing will start to improve soon.

"We had chances to kill off our opponents but we didn't take them," he said. "If you don't finish, you won't win games. But we are still confident that we can play good football and win games."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2016, with the headline 'Still no Amri, but Young Lions eye 2nd win'. Print Edition | Subscribe