Now that the dust on Singapore’s Southeast Asian Games football failure has finally settled, the Young Lions and their new coach Nazri Nasir can finally stick their heads out after months of being in a cocoon as the fires raged.
And their return to a major competition at the upcoming 2024 Asian Football Confederation U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 qualifiers in September will mean that Nazri and his boys will need to put the chatter behind, and find a way to build back confidence and trust with the public.
The competition will be Nazri’s first major test since he was named as national U22 head coach and Young Lions coach in July.
Unfortunately, not many are expecting that the Young Lions will be able to qualify from a group which will feature Vietnam, Yemen and Guam.
On the home front, the Young Lions are still rooted at the bottom of the Singapore Premier League table, and only have five points to show all season.
Nazri, has not earned a single point since taking over.
But still, a provisional squad of 26 players selected to represent Singapore at the tournament will have an opportunity to gel, and play together leading up to the September dates.
From 21 August to 3 September, Nazri will have his team intact for a training camp in Bangkok, which will see them face off in three friendly matches against North Bangkok University, Bangkok United and the Thailand U23 side.
“It is a very important tournament for us, but we will not be focusing only on the end result,” said the former skipper, who replaced former Young Lions coach Philippe Aw following the SEA Games disaster.
“Obviously most of them were part of the recent disappointing SEA Games, hence it is also an opportunity for them, personally and collectively, to apply the learnings over the last few months and show they can compete hard, and with heart.”
16 of the 26 players chosen have been drafted from the Young Lions side including Elijah Lim, but familiar faces from the SEA Games like Nur Adam Abdullah (photo below), Jordan Emavive and Abdul Rasaq Akeem have also found their places in the team.
Also in the provisional list is Tanjong Pagar United’s Azim Akbar.
“I have confidence in this group of players as I have seen their passion and commitment levels during the matches that I observed,” said Nazri.
“The upcoming training camp will give our players a chance to face different types of opponents and use the skills they have been working hard on during training.
“It would also allow me to see how the team shapes up as we prepare to get into competition mode in Hanoi.”
MAIN PHOTO: YAHOO
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