Tardy: Youngsters must prove they are worthy of SEA Games spot
Singapore's Under-23 side were a shambles at the South-east Asia Games last year, with Aide Iskandar's side failing to survive the group stages in a tournament hosted on home turf.
The next edition of the Games is still a year away, but the task of exorcising the ghosts of 2015 has already started, and this week, the local football fraternity will get a first look at the 51 youngsters vying for a spot in next year's SEA Games squad.
Singapore's Under-19 and Under-21 sides will be playing against a visiting Bahrain U-19 side in three friendly matches this week, with the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) head coach of national youth teams, Richard Tardy (right), calling for them to show exactly what they are capable of. The U-19s face their Bahrain counterparts this evening, and again on Saturday, while the U-21s will line up against the same opponents on Sunday. All matches will be played at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium. Tardy will lead the U-21s, with Takuya Inoue taking charge of the younger team.
"The level of our Prime League is not very high, and many of these players have never played an international game at this level," said Tardy of the Prime League players who make up more than half of the two squads.
"I honestly think it will be difficult… but this is a chance for them to prove something."
Bahrain are poised to be challenging opponents.
Abdul Aziz Abdo's squad have been assembled with the loftiest of ambitions - to play at football's biggest stage.
"This is a team for the future, and our target is to qualify for the 2022 World Cup that will be hosted in Qatar, and our work starts from now," said Abdo.
Tardy believes that matches against opponents from outside South-east Asia, like Bahrain, can only be good for the development of players who will be the future national team.
While this is a friendly match and merely a platform to test players, the SEA Games is a different story.
"When you train youth players, you don't look at results, but we must go and get results at the SEA Games.
"I already have a good idea of the group for next year (in the SEA Games squad), but we must have reserve players too. "They may not be with the team all the time, but they must know the philosophy, and this is why it's good to have a big group."I want the players to be proud to wear the jersey of Singapore, and do their best for the country, show that spirit to fight (and to) run," said Tardy. "These kinds of games will help players progress, and gauge the level they are at. I hope to see players prove to me that I should have called them up earlier."
(All matches at Choa Chu Kang Stadium, kick-off 8pm)
- Today: Singapore U-19 v Bahrain U-19 (Free entry)
- Saturday: Singapore U-19 v Bahrain U-19 (Free entry)
- Sunday: Singapore U-21 v Bahrain U-19 (Grandstand: $7/Concession $3)
- Singapore U-19: Ahmad Fadly, Adib Nur Hakim, Zharfan Rohaizad, Nonis Zephen-Sean Anthony, Khairul Shari, Fadzyl Misawal, Shahrul Affand, Rusyaidi Salime, Amer Hakeem, Amirul Hakim, Syahrul Sazali, Shafie Mulianto, Zulkhair Mustaffa, Shaqi Sulaiman, Lionel Tan, Jordan Chan, Gareth Low, Nasrul Taib, Hami Syahin, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Joshua Pereira, Saifullah Akbar, Syed Firdaus, Andin Addie Djayady, Haiqal Pashia Anugrah, Amiruldin Asraf, Syukri Bashir
- Singapore U-21: Fashah Iskandar, Hairul Syirhan, Dhukilan Jeevamani, Illyas Lee, Amirul Adli, Khalili Khalif, Shahrin Saberin, Taufiq Muqminin, Gautam Selvamany, Mahathir Azeman, Amir Zailani, Fahrish Khan, Hafiz Sulaiman, Noor Faridzuan, Shameer Aziq, Zulfadhmi Suzliman, Ryan Syaffiq, Jonathan Tan, Toh Kian Keong, Yeo Hai Ngee, Adam Swandi, Iqram Rifqi, Shafeeq Faruk, Qayyum Hakim.