Adam seeks to replicate club form at Suzuki Cup
Newly minted Young Player of the Year eyes a spot with the Lions
Fresh from the best season of his career, fledgling Lions midfielder Adam Swandi is hoping to replicate his club form with Albirex Niigata at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup from Nov 8-Dec 15.
On Saturday, the 22-year-old was crowned Hyundai Young Player of the Year at the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) Nite to cap off an impressive debut season with Albirex.
The club completed a clean sweep of trophies for the third straight campaign.
Having been named in the Lions squad for tomorrow night's international friendly against Cambodia at the Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium, Adam is also back in favour with Fandi Ahmad after failing to feature much under his predecessor V. Sundram Moorthy.
Adam told The New Paper: "This is a prestigious award. It gives me confidence...
"As of now, I'm just 110 per cent focused on getting into the Suzuki Cup team. And I hope I can help the nation directly with my efforts."
GREAT EASTERN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Wataru Murofushi (Albirex Niigata)
HYUNDAI YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Adam Swandi (Albirex Niigata)
RHB COACH OF THE YEAR
Kazuaki Yoshinaga (Albirex Niigata)
MITRE GOAL OF THE YEAR
Zulfadhmi Suzliman ( Tampines Rovers)
RHB TOP SCORER
Shuhei Hoshino (Albirex Niigata)
SINGAPORE POOLS FAIR PLAY AWARD
Adam has already shown that he can transfer his form to a different stage once this season, bagging three of his five goals after returning from trial at the White Swans' parent club in Japan last month.
A further eight assists lends weight to the 22-year-old's belief that this has been the best season of his budding career.
Said Albirex chairman Daisuke Korenaga: "Adam has shown a greater concentration since he came back.
"He has been improving since the beginning of the season but, after he came back, even more. Maybe something is changing in his mind."
Adam admits that playing for Albirex has changed the way he sees the game.
Said the left winger: " I used to neglect my defensive work because I felt that I just had to do my job as an attacker and contribute goals and assists.
"But over there, you have to work as a team and get the ball back. Defending is a big part of the game. If you don't concede, you don't lose.
"We defend together as one because we know numbers really matter in football.
"If we have men behind the ball when we don't have it, then there is a big chance of us recovering the ball and going on the attack again."
That mentality must be music to the ears of Fandi.
Tactical discipline and teamwork have been his buzzwords ahead of the Suzuki Cup.
Adam has yet to feature under Fandi, having failed to get off the bench in last Friday's 2-0 win over Mongolia after he missed last month's friendlies against Mauritius and Fiji due to his trial in Niigata.
The Lions coach has name-checked him as an option for the No. 10 role, though.
Despite Adam's ascendancy, things haven't always been so rosy. Despite an early move to Europe with FC Metz in 2013 and a Lions debut at 17, he has only six caps. After returning from France in 2015 to complete his national service, he struggled.
He said: "With all the attention, at some point I felt that I was not developing as fast as I wanted to... One of the hardest moments was when I was coming back from Metz to play for Young Lions and do my national service.
"That was the year I felt I was going backwards. It made me do a lot of self-reflection and I needed a lot of support from my family and loved ones.
"It was a really bad moment for me, I managed to score only once and it was a penalty.
"I have to thank coach Aidil (Sharin) for wanting to take me to Home United the next season, he trusted me.
"He saw something in me and wanted to give me a chance. Thankfully, I had a good season and I felt like I was reborn again and started to enjoy my football... It made me believe." - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY TAN KIM HAN