FAS trying to get Hassan's release for Asian Games
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is not giving up hope on securing Warriors FC goalkeeper Hassan Sunny's release for the Asian Games football tournament in Incheon, South Korea, later this month.
Hassan, 30, is wanted by national teams coach Bernd Stange as one of the three permitted overaged players to be registered for the Under-23 tournament.
However, as the Asian Games is not a Fifa tournament, it is not compulsory for clubs to release players.
Warriors coach Alex Weaver told The Straits Times last week that he needs his on-form shot-stopper as his team goes for the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title.
The eight-time S.League champions are currently second in the 12-team league, five points behind leaders Brunei DPMM, with five games to play.
The New Paper understands the FAS is looking at whether it can reschedule the Warriors' fixtures so that Hassan would not miss any S.League games.
The Asian Games football tournament will be from Sept 14 to Oct 2 and the S.League, which is currently on a break, will resume on Sept 17.
The Warriors will have another week's break from Sept 23 to 29 as the dates are set aside for the RHB Singapore Cup semi-finals, which they are not a part of.
Speaking to TNP yesterday, Weaver said: "I spoke to Stange and he said the FAS would look to change some of our fixtures to accommodate Hassan playing for them, but I haven't heard any confirmation, so I can't say that much now.
"If we're given that option by the FAS then we'll see, but right now I still don't know if that (rescheduling of fixtures) will be a good or bad thing for us."
The former Stoke City academy coach was equally adamant he would want to hold on to young winger Suria Prakash for his side's remaining league fixtures.
Prakash has been a revelation for the Warriors this season and Weaver confirmed the FAS had also requested the release for the 21-year-old for the Asiad.
But the Briton said: "Suria is a part of our team and our squad and he's shown this season he is a very capable player, so for us it's very much the same point of view we have with Hassan."
If the FAS isn't able to reschedule the Warriors' fixtures in time and Hassan is unavailable, Stange will be able to call up 24-year-old Lions-XII goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.
The LionsXII's season is over after they crashed out of the Malaysia Cup at the group stage.
They will take on Felda United in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow in their final Group A match with only pride to play for.
The LionsXII's early elimination from the Malaysia Cup means Stange will be able to call upon Baihakki Khaizan, 30, as another overaged player for the Asian Games team.
But the German is still waiting on the availability of his third preferred senior player, midfielder Hariss Harun, who stars for Malaysian Super League giants Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT).
JDT are through to the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals, which are scheduled for Oct 3 and 4, and, while Hariss will not miss any matches for the Southern Tigers should he travel to Incheon, the club are thought to prefer he remains with them as they prepare to win the coveted tournament.
The FAS has written to JDT requesting Hariss' release, but has yet to receive a reply.
JDT also have three players called up to Malaysia's Asian Games squad - goalkeeper Izham Tarmizi, defender Fadhli Shas and 27-year-old skipper Aidil Zafuan.
TNP understands that if Hariss is unavailable, the FAS will turn to Tampines Rovers' 26-year-old midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman.
Tampines, like the Warriors, are also chasing the S.League title and potentially have two matches to play during the Asian Games football tournament.
They also have two Singapore Cup semi-final fixtures against Balestier Khalsa to negotiate during the period.
When contacted yesterday, Stags coach Rafi Ali said: "I've heard whispers that Shahdan might be called up but there has been no confirmation yet.
"Of course I would prefer to have him here because he's an important player for us."
The FAS is expected to finalise and name the Republic's 20-man Asian Games squad either today or tomorrow.
Singapore have been drawn in Group C together with Oman, Palestine and Tajikistan. They kick off their campaign against Tajikistan on Sept 14.
WHO'S IN THE RUNNING FOR THE ASIAN GAMES SQUAD:
LionsXII: Izwan Mahbud*, Khairulhin Khalid (goalkeepers) Madhu Mohana, Safuwan Baharudin, Baihakki Khaizan*, Shakir Hamzah (defenders), Zulfahmi Arifin, Nazrul Nazari, Faris Ramli, Aqhari Abdullah (midfielders), Shahfiq Ghani, Khairul Nizam, Syafiq Zainal (strikers)
Courts Young Lions: Syazwan Buhari, Rudy Khairullah (goalkeepers), Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Fadli Kamis, Ali Hudzaifi (defenders), Nur Naiim Ishak, Ammirul Emmran, Amirul Adli, M Anumanthan, Stanely Ng, Shameer Aziq (midfielders) Sahil Suhaimi, Iqbal Hussain (strikers)
Others: Hassan Sunny* (Warriors FC, goalkeeper), Hariss Harun* (Johor Darul Ta'zim, midfielder), Shahdan Sulaiman* (Tampines Rovers, midfielder) Suria Prakash (Warriors FC, midfielder)
*As overaged player