Spartak Moscow test for SEA Games footballers
Aide eager to see how U-23 side cope with bigger opponents during training camp in Antalya
The road to an historic first South-east Asia (SEA) Games gold in football begins today - some 8,400 kilometres away.
The national Under-23 team, who are in Antalya, Turkey, on a two-week long training camp, play their first high-profile friendly match of the year when they face the Under-23 team of Russian outfit Spartak Moscow today.
Singapore Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar said he is eager to test his boys against their more illustrious counterparts.
"Tomorrow is our first test and, hopefully, the boys can put up a good fight," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"Against Spartak, I want to see the players' mental strength, because they're going up against a team that's going to be very physical.
"In particular, I want to see how our defenders cope with bigger, stronger strikers."
This is the team's third sparring match this year, after games against Malaysian sides Johor Darul Ta'zim (lost 3-1) and Pahang (won 2-1).
Aide's charges will play three other matches against strong opponents in the next 10 days. (See right).
DATE WITH JAPAN
Upon returning to Singapore on Feb 4, they will also face Japan's U-23 side on Feb 14.
The 26-strong Singapore squad are put up at the Calista Luxury Resort in Antalya, Turkey.
The hotel is part of a huge "football resort" of sorts that provides teams with everything they need during a training camp, including 12 quality football pitches just minutes away.
The U-23 side had a similar stint there in January last year, playing matches against the U-21 teams of Denmark and Azerbaijan, the Austrian U-18 team, and clubs sides like SV Horn (Austria) and Antalyaspor (Turkey).
This year, teams like Fenerbahce, Swiss side Winterthur and German sides Borussia Dortmund II and St Pauli are also having camps there.
Said Aide: "We arrived on Monday, and so far, everything has been good.
"The team have trained well, twice a day, the weather has been nice and cool (12 deg C), and the boys have responded well.
"In fact, we are going to watch Bayern Munich II play Hertha Berlin II in a friendly after lunch, before we begin our afternoon training session."