SINGAPORE, 2 July 2012: The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has announced the Singapore National Under-22 Squad for the upcoming AFC Under-22 Qualifiers, to be held in Pekanbaru, Indonesia from the 5th of July to the 15th of July 2012.
Singapore is placed in Group E, together with Asian powerhouses, Australia and Japan, alongside tournament hosts, Indonesia, Timor Leste and Macau.
Australia’s Qantas Young Socceroos boast 17 players from Australia’s top league, the Hyundai A-League, and two players plying their trade in the Barclays Premier League in England.
Japan will be bringing along a squad that consist of 11 J.league Division 1 players with other players playing in the Division 2.
The Singapore National Under-22 will be led by experienced coach, Mike Wong and will be captained by Courts Young Lions’ Al-Qaasimy Rahman. With an average age of 19.9 years, the young team will be using the upcoming qualifiers to gain valuable international match exposure in preparation for the 2013 and 2015 South-East Asia (SEA) Games.
Consisting of players from the Courts Young Lions team that participates in the Great Eastern YEO’s S.league, the remaining players were drafted in by Coach Mike Wong from both the S.league and Singapore National Football Academy Under-18 Squad. Four players were called up from the LIONSXII team, which is competing in the Malaysian Super League.
Other S.league clubs who released their players for this tournament include, Tampines Rovers FC, Geylang United FC, Tanjong Pagar United FC, Gombak United FC as well as Hougang United FC.
This inaugural AFC U-22 Qualification tournament is an important competition for this age group. Unfortunately, 13 of our players are not able to participate in this tournament due to National Service commitments.
Some of the players that will not be able to make it due to National Service include Khairul Nizam, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Shafiq Ghani and Firman Hanif.
With games scheduled to kick off at 4.00pm in the afternoon and with an intensive match schedule with the team playing every two days, this will be a testing tournament under difficult conditions for our team.
Coach Mike Wong mentioned, “The coaching staff and myself have chosen the best available players for this tournament, and we are going to Indonesia to compete. The team has played several friendlies in preparation for this qualifiers. Even though the bulk of the players are from the Courts Young Lions, I have also selected some other players from other S.league clubs and also the NFA Under-18 team.”
Commenting on the competition ahead, Coach Mike also added, “We will be going up against really quality teams like Australia and Japan, but we are looking forward to play them as it will be good exposure and experience for our young boys.”
Captain Al-Qaasimy Rahman also mentioned, “Every player and official in the team have been working really hard throughout our preparations. The boys have given their all during our centralized training sessions to earn a place in the team. There is a healthy competition within the team as all of us are dedicated and committed, and we all want to play. The team is very eager to go head to head with Asia’s powerhouses such as Australia, Japan and Indonesia. Some of us have played them before in previous tournaments and are fully aware what they are capable of.”
The Courts Young Lions player added, “We will be going to Pekanbaru, Indonesia not just to play football, but to compete for a place in the AFC U22 Cup Finals and to help Singapore mix it up with the best in the region to the best of our abilities.”
The team will be leaving for Pekanbaru, Indonesia tomorrow, Tuesday, the 3rd of July 2012, and will be arriving back in Singapore on Monday, 16th July 2012.
Attached is the Singapore National Under-22 squad list as well as the match schedule for Group E.
Singapore National Under-22 squad list