Sundram to let young guns prove their worth
National coach V Sundram Moorthy looks set to give some youngsters their baptism of fire during tomorrow's friendly against Lebanon at the National Stadium.
The 52-year-old, who has called up uncapped Garena Young Lions midfielder Hami Syahin, said such games are opportunities for the young players to prove themselves.
He said: "Obviously, we're looking at the results, but at the same time, these young players are maturing and if we don't put them in games like these, then we'll be missing out on opportunities to see them grow."
Sundram, who has a mix of youth and experience in his 25-man squad, believes the young guns should be given opportunities to show why they should remain in his squad for next Tuesday's Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain.
After tomorrow's game, two players will be culled.
The absence of skipper Shahril Ishak, who asked to be rested for tomorrow's friendly, and Shakir Hamzah, who is out for the year with a hip injury, will also allow up-and-coming players to stake their claim for first-team places.
"We have talents like Hami, Shannon (Stephen), and even Ikhsan (Fandi) who have already played," said Sundram.
"We may not be able to start with these young players, but we should regularly inject them into games to give them a feel of the game."
Despite getting his first call-up, Hami, 18, did not look overawed.
Describing his first training session with the Lions as a step-up in his learning experience, he said: "The intensity of training with the experienced players is totally different, because they know how to predict the game better and they really think ahead of what to do in the next few seconds of the game.
"I'm definitely looking forward to playing alongside them if I get the chance to."
Stephen, who has been called up for a second time, also hopes to contribute.
The 23-year-old defender said: "There is a lot of experience in the team, and playing with some of my teammates (from Tampines Rovers) who are also here gives me more confidence to play at this level.
"I'm feeling fresh and good, I've been playing in the last few S.League matches and, if I do get a chance to play, I'm definitely ready."
Ikhsan, who has three international caps, believes youngsters like himself will be ready to come on when needed.
Said the 18-year-old forward: "I think we do have a chance against Lebanon, but it's better for the team to start with more experienced players.
"For players like me, we can watch and see how we can adapt to the game from the bench, and help out if needed."
- Tickets for tomorrow's friendly against Lebanon and next Tuesday's Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain are available online at www.sportshubtix.com.sg, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium box office and SingPost outlets.