Singapore’s quest for an unprecedented SEA Games football gold has been hit after losing forward Ilhan Fandi and wide player Farhan Zulkifli to ankle and quadriceps injuries respectively.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) confirmed on Tuesday (April 19) that the duo are not in the provisional 27-man squad and will miss out on the Under-23 tournament next month.
However, they will be aided by three over-aged players allowed for the competition.
The trio will be picked from the quartet of Geylang International goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam, BG Pathum defender Irfan Fandi, Hougang United utility player Zulfahmi Arifin and Lion City Sailors midfielder Hami Syahin.
The team will have a local training camp from Monday and depart for Vietnam on May 4.
While the absence of Ilhan – who scored seven goals in 18 Young Lions games last year and two goals in three games this season – means coach Nazri Nasir will have one fewer option, Ilhan’s second brother Ikhsan, who scored a brace for the Lions in last month’s 2-1 friendly win over Malaysia, is also named in the squad.
Nazri said: “It is unfortunate that Ilhan and Farhan will not be participating in this year’s SEA Games, but it will be a great opportunity for other players to step up and prove to me they deserve a spot in the final squad.”
He added that they will use the training camp to practise patterns of play so his players will be able to execute their philosophy on the pitch, adding that the over-aged players he picked will fit into their system.
Singapore’s Group B campaign starts on May 7 against Laos before taking on Thailand (May 9), Cambodia (May 11) and Malaysia (May 14), as they aim to make it to the semi-finals for the first time since 2013.
The FAS also announced a provisional 27-player squad for the national women’s team who will be taking part in their first SEA Games since 2003.
Overseas-based players Siti Rosnani Azman, a 24-year-old defender who plays for Kibi International University in Japan, and 20-year-old forward Nicole Lim, who plays for University of Edinburgh in Scotland, have been included in the squad.
The Lionesses will embark on an eight-day training camp in Chonburi, Thailand, from today and will play three friendly matches with Thai clubs.
Coach Stephen Ng is glad his players will get more match exposure to play at “higher intensities” after the recent friendlies (a 6-2 win over Seychelles and a 1-0 loss to Papua New Guinea).
The Lionesses are in Group B where they will play Thailand (May 10), Laos (May 13) and Myanmar (May 15). Both the men’s and women’s squads will be cut to 20 players for the May 12-23 SEA Games.