Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Olympic squad looking to impress in Singapore league

National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee has warned his boys that results will be just as important as gaining exposure when they compete in the Sin­gapore League (S-League) from Feb 9.

The Malacca-born coach has targeted a top-five finish in their debut season in the S-League despite naming a relatively inexperienced squad.

The team will be taking part in the S-League as part of the MoU signed between the FA of Malaysia (FAM) and the FA of Singapore (FAS).

“I expect the players to perform in our debut season,” said Kim Swee.

“There are several new faces in the team but that doesn’t mean we will lower our expectations.

The team had played in Slovakia, won the SEA Games gold medal and enjoyed a good outing in Australia. So I expect them to do well in the S-League.

“The FAM have not set us a target but I have challenged the boys to finish in the top five. I believe they have the quality to do that if they work hard.”

Kim Swee, who initially planned to have a squad of 30 players for the S-League, has instead finalised a team of 29 players – with the inclusion of Kelantan striker Muhd Izuan Salahuddin.

The Harimau Muda will only feature players aged below 23, including six 18-year-olds – Nazmi Faiz Mansor, Syazwan Tajuddin, Akmal Ishak, Azizan Nordin, Nur Areef Ka­­ma­­ruddin and Firdaus Muhammad.

There are also four 19-year-olds in the squad – Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, Shahrul Saad and Farhan Abu Bakar.

Mahali Jasuli, Affize Faisal Mamat and V. Kavichelvan are all 23 years old while Izzaq Faris Ramlan, Syahid Zaidon and Shahril Saari are 22.

The rest of the players are below 21. They are Muhd Izuan, Fadhli Shas, Wan Zack Haikal Wan Nor, A. Thamil Arasu, Irfan Fazail, Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria, Izham Tarmizi Roslan, Ferris Danial Mat Nasir, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Fandi Othman, D. Saarvindran, Gary Steven Robbat and Amer Saidin.

The team reported for training at the National Sports Council (NSC) ground after a two-week break yesterday. Their next assignment will be a friendly against the Saudi Arabian Under-23 side on Jan 31 before taking on Bahrain in the Asian Zone Olympic final round qualifier on Feb 5.

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