Young Lions pull out of AFF U-22 c'ship

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced yesterday that the national Under-22 team will not be competing at next month's Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-22 Youth Championship.

A packed schedule in the opening months of this year has meant that Fandi Ahmad's Young Lions are unable to commit to the regional competition.

FAS general secretary Yazeen Buhari said: "We have taken into account the quality of preparation and the availability of our young players. For this year, our focus will be on AFC (Asian Football Confederation) U-23 qualifiers in March and the South-east-Asia Games in November.

"In addition, centralised training camps are also being planned for as part of the team's preparations for these tournaments."

The second edition of the AFF U-22 tournament will be held from Feb 17 to March 2 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The first edition was contested 14 years ago in 2005 before being revived again this year.

Singapore were originally drawn in Group B, alongside Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia and the host.

Fandi's team are currently in Kuala Lumpur for pre-season training to prepare for the upcoming Singapore Premier League season, which is set to kick off next month.

The team are also committed to the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers from March 22-26.

Singapore are in Group G, alongside host Mongolia, North Korea and Hong Kong.

The top team in each of the 11 groups and the four best runners-up will join host Thailand in the finals to be played next year.

The top-three finishers at the U-23 finals will also qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Young Lions pull out of AFF U-22 c'ship'. Print Edition | Subscribe