Song open to the idea of playing for Singapore

Song Ui Young training with his Home United team-mates yesterday. The defensive midfielder has caught the eye with his all-action displays.
Song Ui Young training with his Home United team-mates yesterday. The defensive midfielder has caught the eye with his all-action displays. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Home United's South Korean midfielder Song Ui Young, 22, was one of the foreign players who outgoing Singapore coach Bernd Stange said would help the national football team make the "step to the next level" if they were naturalised.

The German, whose contract with the Lions expires next Friday, made the comments after Singapore's 2-1 friendly win over Myanmar last month. Song will meet Fifa's five-year residency rule at the end of this year and become eligible to be naturalised.

And the Incheon native told The Straits Times that he is open to the idea of playing for the Lions.

Currently an S Pass holder, he said: "Bernd spoke to me about this casually. But, yes, I would definitely consider giving up my Korean passport. I'm enjoying life in Singapore, I'm playing well and I believe I can still get better as a player."

Asked about Stange's comments, a Football Association of Singapore spokesman said: "Top performing foreign players... able to add long-term value to Singapore will be considered for the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme."

The defensive midfielder has certainly caught the eye with his all-action displays and good distribution. Not bad for someone who came to Singapore as a 17-year-old striker to play for Home's Prime League side .

"At first it was difficult. As a striker I was always on the move, but now I need to know when to slow down the play and when to speed it up," said Song, who watches videos of Bayern Munich's Xabi Alonso and Real Madrid's Toni Kroos to learn about his new position.

Home coach Philippe Aw believes his player brings more than just footballing excellence to the table, adding: "He is very driven, always among the first for training, always doing extra work... he can be a role model to some of the younger ones."

"Of course his work rate and technical ability is good... he will definitely be a good addition (to the national set-up)."

Song's parents and sister, who were initially against him moving to Singapore, have since changed their stance.

He now lives alone in a two-room HDB flat in Ang Mo Kio and has a limited circle of friends.

"I think I would be able to find a club back home, but here I know I can play almost every match, so I'd prefer to stay in Singapore," said Song, who attends English lessons twice weekly.

Song believes his team can take three points off league leaders Albirex today:

"If we play at our best, definitely we can beat them. Our players are good enough. We've prepared well and hopefully we can show that in the match."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2016, with the headline 'Song open to the idea of playing for Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe