SINGAPORE - Interim national coach Fandi Ahmad has called up three new players in his 26-man squad for the Lions' upcoming friendlies against Mauritius and Fiji, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced on Wednesday (Aug 29).
Young Lions midfielder Jacob Mahler and brothers Zulfadhmi (Tampines Rovers) and Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Young Lions) are the new faces in the selection while winger Gabriel Quak has earned a recall after almost two years in the international wilderness.
Warriors FC defender Ho Wai Loon and Young Lions forward Hami Syahin, both of whom had been called up previously but remain uncapped, have also been included.
Fandi said: "The players I have selected have done well in their respective leagues and I feel there is an ideal mix of experience and potential in this team.
"We have been monitoring our overseas-based players to keep track of their development and performance, and we are all aware that the competition for slots in the national team is high, given that the younger players are also eager to impress.
"Every member of the squad has something unique to bring to the table and I am looking forward to the two upcoming games.
"The three new faces in the team, Zulfadhmi, Zulqarnaen and Jacob, have taken their opportunities to shine in the SPL (Singapore Premier League) this season and being in the national team set-up will benefit their development.
"These two months leading up to November's AFF (Asean Football Federation) Suzuki Cup are crucial for us, and I hope that our fans will give their fullest support as we embark on this journey together."
Mahler, 18, is the youngest player in the squad. The squad also includes the nine Singaporean players who are plying their trade in Malaysia and Thailand. The team will come together on Monday (Sept 3) for their first centralised training at Geylang Training Centre.
Midfielder Mahler said: "I'm honoured to have been called up to the national team and grateful to coach Fandi for giving me this opportunity. Training with the senior team has been a great experience and I am looking forward to learning from them and improving my game in the process."
The Lions will play two more matches in October against Mongolia (Oct 12) and Cambodia (Oct 16) as part of their AFF Cup preparations, which begins on Nov 9. Singapore have been drawn in Group B of the biennial regional tournament alongside defending champions Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and either Timor-Leste or Brunei, who have to play in a qualifying round.
Singapore squad - Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny (Army United, Thailand), Izwan Mahbud (Nongbua Pitchaya, Thailand), Zaiful Nizam (Balestier Khalsa)
Defenders: Baihakki Khaizan (Udon Thani, Thailand), Faritz Hameed, Shakir Hamzah (both Home United), Ho Wai Loon (Warriors FC), Irfan Fandi (Young Lions), Nazrul Nazari (Hougang United), Safuwan Baharudin (Pahang, Malaysia), Zulfahmi Arifin (Chonburi, Thailand)
Midfielders: Faris Ramli (PKNS, Malaysia), Hami Syahin, Jacob Mahler (both Young Lions), Hariss Harun (Johor Darul Takzim, Malaysia), Izzdin Shafiq, M. Anumanthan (both Home United), Gabriel Quak (Navy FC, Thailand), Shahdan Sulaiman (Melaka United, Malaysia), Yasir Hanapi, Zulfadhmi Suzliman (both Tampines Rovers)
Forwards: Ikhsan Fandi (Young Lions), Iqbal Hussain (Hougang United), Khairul Amri (Tampines Rovers), Shahril Ishak (Home United)