Fandi's U-20 boys to play Mauritius' U-21 side on March 11
On one of the cooler boxes belonging to the National Under-20 team, the words "Tokyo Boys" have been scrawled with a marker pen.
They are a reminder of the ultimate ambition of the team led by local football icon Fandi Ahmad - to become the first Singapore side to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The squad's long road to the Games will begin in eight days' time, when they play their first international game in Mauritius.
At a press conference at the Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) formally announced a friendly match between Singapore and Mauritius' Under-21 sides, at the King George V Stadium on March 11.
The match will be part of activities to commemorate Mauritius' 49th Independence Day, which falls on March 12.
Fandi was appointed in his current role last October, with the aim of forming a team to bridge a gap between the national U-18 and U-22 teams.
He announced then that his aim was also to scout for talent that did not come through the FAS system or S.League clubs' youth sides.
Said Fandi: "We have played seven friendly matches, some good, some not quite - we we got thrashed by the (Under-21) Young Lions - but lately, the boys have been doing well.
"Lately, we've also played games against (amateur) NFL teams and youth teams of S.League clubs... (and) I have seen an improvement after one and a half months."
The 54-year-old former national captain added: "I'm very excited for the players. It is their dream to play for Singapore, and now they will make it a reality.
"But the important thing is they have to strive and keep working hard, because every three months or so, we will review everyone's place in the team. At the end of the day, I told the boys we do not select the players, they select themselves."
Fandi said the squad of 20 travelling to Mauritius will comprise his U-20 charges, as well as players from clubs like Home United, Hougang United and Tampines Rovers.
Mauritius' senior team are ranked 147th in the world, 17 places above Singapore.
Mauritius Football Association general secretary Paul Didier said: "It was a very long process to have the Singapore team play us. We tried several times to bring Singapore's (senior national) team, but we did not succeed.
"We have invested a lot in youth development recently... (and) we hope this match will open a new exchange now in football between the two countries."