Singapore Football

Title on agenda, but youth development among Sailors' priorities

Lion City Sailors coach Aurelio Vidmar acknowledges that they have been the talk of the town, but he has warned his players against reading too much into the hype.

With Singapore internationals Shahdan Sulaiman, Gabriel Quak and Hassan Sunny joining a side already with Shahril Ishak and Song Ui Young, the Sailors have been the envy of many.

Not surprisingly, the newly privatised side, previously known as Home United, have been widely tipped to win the Singapore Premier League (SPL) even before a ball has been kicked.

When The New Paper asked Vidmar if he agreed with the consensus that they should win the league this year, the former Australia captain was quick to play it down.

Said the 53-year-old: "I disagree with that. Sure, we have strengthened, but that doesn't mean we are automatically going to be a championship-winning side.

"We are a work in progress. We have to remember that we finished sixth last year. Just because we have changed the name, the ownership, it suddenly feels like we are the hunted.

"But I don't shy away from the fact that we are capable. We have to work hard and smart.

"The expectation is to win the championship. That is where we want to go (but), everything needs to go right for that to happen."

While winning the title may be on the agenda, youth development also ranks highly among the Sailors' priorities.

The club have decided against utilising all four foreign-player slots, choosing not to fill the Under-21 quota.

Their foreign roster has been filled by former Albirex Niigata defender Kaishu Yamazaki, Australian forward Andy Pengelly and South Korean attacker Song Ui Young, who has been with the side since 2013.

Explained Vidmar: "Our job here is to try to develop the younger players quicker... they should earn the spot in the team.

"I'm new to these rules (starting three U-23 players), but these are the rules...

"My view was not to take the U-21 international. It's not necessary because we need to produce more U-23 players.

"I'm more than happy to work with our younger guys and get them up to speed." - DEEPANRAJ GANESAN

Singapore Football