S'pore U-22 football team still heading to Qatar

The Singapore Under-22 football team will proceed with a training trip to Qatar next Monday even as the Gulf state remains mired in a diplomatic crisis.

The team, led by national youth teams head coach Richard Tardy, will train and play a few friendly matches in Qatar to prepare for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.

Trips to the Middle East, where the level of football is higher, are not new to the U-22 team. They have trained in Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

A Football Association of Singapore spokesman said: "We are aware of and are monitoring the current situation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs currently has no travel advisory for Qatar. We will continue to engage the MFA and will provide an update if there are further developments."

Players The Straits Times spoke to said they were initially concerned but trust that officials will take the necessary measures to ensure their safety.

Defender Shahrin Saberin said: "At first, I was concerned and the players also discussed it among ourselves. For now the situation seems okay, but we don't know what will happen (in the next few days). All we can do is to focus on the football and stay alert."

"We don't always get to play in Qatar and it's good exposure for us. The opponents are good, the style of play is different and we've benefited a lot from previous trips to the Middle East."

Goalkeeper Fashah Rosedin is looking forward to testing himself against better opponents: "Trips like these help us to bond, especially with players from the different clubs coming in. There are less distractions and we can focus fully on playing football."

Chua Siang Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore U-22 football team still heading to Qatar'. Print Edition | Subscribe