Football: Young Lions still have work to do in spite of big win

Singapore Under-22 captain Irfan Fandi heading home a goal in the 4-1 friendly win over Perth Glory's U-20 team during their match at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Singapore Under-22 captain Irfan Fandi heading home a goal in the 4-1 friendly win over Perth Glory's U-20 team during their match at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Despite a resounding 4-1 victory over Perth Glory's Under-20 squad at Jalan Besar last night, Singapore U-22 coach Fandi Ahmad acknowledged that there is still work to be done before his side head to the SEA Games in the Philippines.

Even though four different players scored in the friendly match, he highlighted the team's attack as an area that needed improvement.

Speaking after the SEA Games tune-up, he said: "We are quite happy, but there is still a lot to be done in terms of understanding, especially in the attacking third, because we're not sure who will lead the attack.

"We're really trying to focus on our teamwork and going into the attacking third."

They have been unfortunate with injuries, with players like Zikos Chua out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, but the Young Lions could be boosted by the presence of Faris Ramli in the squad.

The 27-year-old was one of the two senior players who played in last night's game, with the other being defender Tajeli Salamat, 25.

While Fandi said it is likely that both of them will be in the team, the 20-man squad will be finalised only on Saturday.

Without an established striker, having Faris, who was recently crowned Player of the Year after a stellar season in the Singapore Premier League that saw him score 16 goals for Hougang United, would come in handy as they ready themselves for a tough group stage at the SEA Games.

The U-22s have been placed in Group B along with defending champions Thailand, 2017 bronze medallists Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Brunei.

 
 

The tournament will run from Nov 25 to Dec 10.

Ikhsan Fandi, who has seven goals in 16 senior appearances, would also help lift the squad, but the Football Association of Singapore is in the midst of getting permission from his club, Norwegian second-tier side Raufoss.

Faris, who has played in three previous SEA Games, got on the score sheet last night after coolly slotting home a penalty, the fourth goal.

He also set up the first goal for Haiqal Pashia in the ninth minute after he was fed a through ball by Tajeli.

Hami Syahin and skipper Irfan Fandi were the other scorers.

For the final stretch of preparations, the U-22s will be sparring against local teams this weekend.

However, they will be without four players - Faris, Irfan, Ikhsan and Hami - who are all named for the senior Lions' World Cup qualifier against Yemen next Tuesday.

The last time Singapore made the semi-finals of the SEA Games was in 2013 when they finished third after edging out Malaysia 2-1 in the bronze-medal match.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2019, with the headline 'Young Lions still have work to do in spite of big win'. Print Edition | Subscribe