SINGAPORE - 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 Suzuki Cup after they were named in national football coach Tatsuma Yoshida's provisional squad on Friday (Oct 8).
The 47-year-old Japanese picked 27 players which included 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 Korean born midfielder Song Ui-young - were also called up.
Yoshida also added Young Lions midfielder Hami Syahin and forward Ilhan on the standby list, and they could well make the final squad for the Asean Football Federation tournament. A maximum of 30 players can be registered, up from the usual 23, in case of a Covid-19 outbreak within the team.
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 SPL 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".
"I also considered player combinations and squad dynamics when picking this team, which will allow us to perform to our best on the pitch," he added.
"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 performed well at the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers this month could be added to the squad, which will start centralised training from Oct 25.
Playing on home soil at the National Stadium as tournaments 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.
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."