Singapore U-23s still hopeful of Asiad slot
Aide's boys to play Bahrain U-23s in bid to convince SNOC selectors
The appeal has not been submitted, the deadline has already passed, but the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is still hopeful of sneaking the national Under-23 side into the Incheon Asian Games, from Sept 19 to Oct 4.
Led by coach Aide Iskandar, a 19-man squad will leave tomorrow for Bahrain, where they will play against the Middle East country's U-23 side at the Al Ahli Stadium on Thursday morning (Singapore time).
The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) had set a benchmark for Asian Games hopefuls to beat the sixth-ranked team in Asia, and the deadline for appeals closed yesterday.
Bahrain are ranked 14th on the continent.
The Singapore U-23s played Borussia Dortmund's U-23 side (lost 5-0), and Czech club side FC Pribram (lost 6-1) during their training trip to Austria last month, but they will finally play Asian opposition this time, in a bid to earn SNOC's nod for the Asiad.
National coach Bernd Stange remained hopeful.
In a statement released by the FAS yesterday, he said: "We are keen to participate in the 2014 Asian Games as it will be an excellent platform for the team to gain experience. We hope we can convince the SNOC with a good performance in this match."
The FAS has yet to officially submit its appeal, saying in its release yesterday that the "result of the (Bahrain) match will be compiled, along with the match results by the U-23 team this year, as part of our submission to the SNOC for a place in the Team Singapore contingent".
Contacted, SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan said: "We have advised the FAS that it has to meet the SNOC selection criterion of current sixth placing in Asia to meet the selection standards for the Asian Games.
"If the FAS can present new results to meet the qualifying mark, we will submit its results to the SNOC selection committee to consider its entry to the Asian Games before the entry-by-name deadline."
The New Paper understands that the FAS had earlier tried to arrange friendly matches with teams ranked in the top six in Asia, but was unsuccessful.
"We did everything we could (to organise matches with top-ranked Asian teams), and we will say all this in future meetings, but there were many other factors why we couldn't play, but I can't say more," Stange told TNP.
"But whatever happens, this team are absolutely on track, the trip to Austria was great. And my opinion is clear and it hasn't changed - whatever SNOC's decision is, we will respect it, and will continue to work with the boys."
There are four over-aged players in the travelling squad to Bahrain - Warriors FC goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, and LionsXII trio Baihakki Khaizan, Afiq Yunos and Khairul Amri.
In the team, eight hail from S.League side Courts Young Lions, who will play Malaysia's Harimau Muda B in a league fixture tomorrow.
TNP understands that three of the eight will travel to Bahrain only on Monday, after playing in tomorrow's match.
Like football, the men's hockey team also missed out on the initial list of 223 athletes from 19 sports who will fly the Republic's flag at the Asiad, but they went to play the sixth-ranked team, Oman, four times in three months.
Solomon Casoojee's men eventually beat the Omanis twice last month, to give their hopes of making SNOC's final list - to be submitted on Aug 15 - a massive boost.
SQUAD TO BAHRAIN:
Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny*, Rudy Khairullah, Izwan Mahbud
Defenders: Baihakki Khaizan*, Afiq Yunos*, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Al Qaasimy Rahman, Fadli Kamis
Midfielders: Amirul Adli, Iqbal Hussain, Anumanthan Mohan Kumar, Shameer Aziq, Zulfahmi Arifin, Shahfiq Ghani, Nazrul Nazari,
Forwards: Khairul Amri*, Sahil Suhaimi, Adam Swandi
* Over-aged players