Fandi brothers aim for Cup thrills

Irfan, Ikhsan and Ilhan drafted into Lions' 27-man provisional squad for Suzuki Cup

The exciting Fandi brothers - defender Irfan and forwards Ikhsan and Ilhan - could feature for the Lions together for the first time at the Dec 5 to Jan 1 AFF Suzuki Cup after they were named in national football coach Tatsuma Yoshida's provisional squad yesterday.

The 47-year-old Japanese picked 27 players, including five overseas-based players in Selangor defender Safuwan Baharudin, BG Pathum defender Irfan, Kedah midfielder M. Anumanthan, Sukhothai midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin and FK Jerv forward Ikhsan.

Six uncapped players - goalkeepers Syazwan Buhari and Zharfan Rohaizad, defenders Tajeli Salamat and Nur Adam Abdullah, forward Amy Recha, and South Korea-born midfielder Song Ui-young - were also called up.

Yoshida also added Young Lions midfielder Hami Syahin and forward Ilhan to the standby list, and they could well make the final squad for the Asean Football Federation (AFF) tournament.

A maximum of 30 players can be registered, up from the usual 23, in case of a Covid-19 outbreak within the team, although the match day squad remains capped at 23.

Notable absences include a raft of seasoned Tampines Rovers players - defenders Baihakki Khaizan and Madhu Mohana, and midfielder Yasir Hanapi - as the Stags have been floundering in the Singapore Premier League lately.

Yoshida said he had selected the players based not only on their technical abilities but also their "spirit, motivation and passion for the game".

He added: "I also considered player combinations and squad dynamics when picking this team, which will allow us to perform to our best on the pitch.

"We have around six weeks to prepare for the tournament and we must make the most of the time we have to put up a thrilling and strong display of football."

He also said those who perform well at the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers this month could be added to the squad, who will start centralised training from Oct 25.

Playing on home soil at the National Stadium as tournament hosts, four-time champions Singapore will kick off Group A's proceedings against Myanmar on Dec 5, before facing the Philippines on Dec 8 in a crucial four days that could determine if they make it to the final four.

  • LIONS PROVISIONAL/ STANDBY SQUAD

  • GOALKEEPERS 

    Hassan Sunny (Lion City Sailors), Izwan Mahbud (Hougang), Syazwan Buhari (Tampines), Zharfan Rohaizad (Tg Pagar)

  • DEFENDERS 

    Amirul Adli, Nur Adam Abdullah, Tajeli Salamat (all Sailors), Jacob Mahler, Zulqarnaen Suzliman (both Young Lions), Iqram Rifqi (Geylang), Nazrul Nazari (Hougang), Shakir Hamzah (Tg Pagar), Irfan Fandi (BG Pathum United), Safuwan Baharudin (Selangor)

  • MIDFIELDERS 

    Adam Swandi, Hariss Harun, Saifullah Akbar, Shahdan Sulaiman, Song Ui-young (all Sailors), M. Anumanthan (Kedah), Zulfahmi Arifin (Sukhothai)

  • FORWARDS 

    Faris Ramli, Gabriel Quak, Hafiz Nor (all Sailors), Amy Recha, Shawal Anuar (both Geylang), Ikhsan Fandi (FK Jerv)

  • STANDBY 

    Hami Syahin, Ilhan Fandi (both Young Lions)

They play the qualification winners between Brunei and Timor-Leste on Dec 14 before rounding off their group campaign against five-time winners Thailand on Dec 18.

Singapore skipper Hariss Harun said: "The AFF Suzuki Cup is a huge tournament as we have the chance to show our mettle in the South-east Asian region.

"It is going to be special as we play at home, and we are excited to show the country and our fans what we are capable of.

"It will be important to work together as a team and utilise the preparation time in the best way possible, hopefully with some games to prepare us, so we can be ready for the tournament once it begins."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2021, with the headline 'Fandi brothers aim for Cup thrills'. Subscribe