Football: Without Fandi siblings, Singapore need replacements to step up in Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers

Zikos Chua (left) and Khairin Nadim have been tasked to lead the line for Singapore at this month's Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers.
Zikos Chua (left) and Khairin Nadim have been tasked to lead the line for Singapore at this month's Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers.PHOTOS: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In the absence of Ilhan and Ikhsan Fandi, forwards Zikos Chua and Khairin Nadim have been tasked to lead the line for Singapore at this month's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers.

The Young Lions are aiming for a first-ever appearance at the main Cup and Singapore U-22 head coach Nazri Nasir is counting on Chua and Khairin to fill the void left by the Fandi siblings.

Ilhan is injured and recuperating after undergoing a surgery in mid-September while older brother Ikhsan is in Norway playing for second-tier club FK Jerv.

Neither were included in the 28-player provisional squad for the tournament, announced by the Football Association of Singapore on Wednesday (Oct 6).

Centralised training begins on Monday with the final 23 players unveiled on Oct 18.

Nazri said: "We will further emphasise on the philosophy we have adapted for the boys to execute since the previous centralised training.

"Of course, a winning mentality is very important, especially as these boys have not played international tournaments for a while; this is where we will look at how hungry they are to fight for a place in the final squad.

"Everyone will have the chance to prove their worth during the training sessions and again, we want to emphasise that possessing the right mentality is important, along with their playing abilities and understanding of our playing philosophies."

The Republic will host its Group H games, with a maximum of 1,000 spectators allowed into Jalan Besar Stadium for each match.

The home side start against Timor-Leste on Oct 25, before taking on the Philippines three days later and ending its campaign against South Korea on Oct 31.

A total of 11 groups from the West and East Zone will contest the qualifiers, with the group winners and four best second-placed teams progressing to the final stage, which will be held in Uzbekistan next June.


Singapore's provisional squad

Goalkeepers: Dylan Pereira Singh, Martyn Mun, Ridhwan Fikri (Young Lions)

Defenders: Amirul Haikal, Ryaan Sanizal (Tampines Rovers), Danish Irfan, Jacob Mahler, Jordan Emaviwe, Nazhiim Harman, Raoul Suhaimi, Ryhan Stewart (Young Lions), Nur Adam Abdullah (Lion City Sailors)

Midfielders: Arshad Shamim, Daniel Goh, Harhys Stewart, Jared Gallagher, Joel Chew, Rezza Rezky, Shah Shahiran, Zamani Zamri (Young Lions), Farhan Zulkifli (Hougang United), Marc Ryan Tan (Tampines), Ong Yu En (Albirex Niigata), Saifullah Akbar (Sailors)

Forwards: Glenn Kweh, Khairin Nadim, Zikos Chua (Young Lions), Fikri Junaidi (Albirex)