SINGAPORE - Albirex Niigata have announced the signing of two Singaporean footballers - Adam Swandi and goalkeeper Shahul Rayyan - for the 2018 season of the S-League.
This is the first time that the club have been allowed to inject local flavour into a playing squad that has been made up entirely of Japanese players since their 2004 debut in Singapore football.
The Football Association of Singapore has made several changes ahead of this season's March 31 kick-off, also providing Albirex the option of signing two Under-23 Singaporeans.
"When I was presented with the opportunity to sign for Albirex, I didn't hesitate. No one knows if these type of opportunities will come around again, and I believe Albirex will help take my football to the next level," said 21-year-old Adam, who sprang to prominence at the Lion City Cup before joining French side FC Metz on a two-year stint.
He is believed to be one of the Republic's brightest prospects, but several in the fraternity assert that he has yet to reach the heights that he is capable of. Joining the two-time S-League champions is now being hailed as a career-defining move for the attacking midfielder.
Adam will be joined at the Jurong East Stadium by former Warriors FC goalkeeper Shahul, who is looking forward to working with the experienced Albirex custodian, Yosuke Nozawa.
"I will train very hard so that I can learn from the best team in Singapore, and realise my dream of becoming the top goalkeeper in Singapore," said the 22-year-old.
Albirex have swept all four domestic trophies on offer in Singapore football in the past two seasons, and their chairman, Daisuke Korenaga, is delighted with finally being able to welcome Singaporeans into their midst. It was a wish he had made known at least two years ago.
"We have known Adam since 2012, as he is one of the first Singaporeans we brought to Niigata, Japan for a training attachment. So it is appropriate that he is one of the first two Singaporeans to join Albirex in view of the rule changes for the S-League this season," he said.
"We have high hopes for Adam and Shahul, and will assist their development."