MATSUMOTO - It was a routine press conference announcing a simple tie-up, one which would usually attract only a handful of journalists.
But yesterday, in a departure from the norm, three Singapore Under-14 players - Nur Adam Abdullah, Hamizan Hisham and Elijah Lim - found themselves facing some 15 journalists and three television crews in J-League club Matsumoto Yamaga's spartan media conference room.
As Yamaga officially unveiled the trio to the Japanese media, a source close to the club said they received more requests to attend the media conference in the wake of Singapore's 0-0 World Cup qualifying draw with Japan last week.
The result left many shocked, including the 57,000 Samurai Blue supporters at the Saitama Stadium.
Said Adam, 14: "I was a bit surprised to see so many people.
"It's the most journalists I've faced and I was a little nervous because I didn't know what questions to expect."
The trio will train with Yamaga's youth team until Sunday, a stint made possible due to Epson's sponsorship with the Football Association of Singapore.
Epson is also the shirt sponsor of Yamaga.
The trio will also attend a J-League clash at Yamaga's Alwin Stadium, with the hosts taking on Shonan Bellmare.
Yamaga vice-president Yoshiyuki Kato said he hoped the stint would benefit both his players and the Singaporeans.
He added that he hoped he could send his youth players to Singapore in future, as playing in a different culture is a "great stimulus" for them to improve.
The trio were supposed to take to the field yesterday for their first training session but it was called off due to bad weather.
However, they are keen to put on a good show to impress the hosts.
Said defender Hamizan, 14: "There's a bit of pressure after the Singapore game but I am confident we will show them Singapore football is good.
"I also hope to learn as much as I can from the Japanese players' style of play."
CHUA SIANG YEE