National Teams – Age-group ● Nov 11, 2019

Fandi: Good training camp despite setbacks

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SINGAPORE, 11 NOVEMBER 2019 – In less than three weeks, the Singapore Under-22 National Team will face their regional counterparts at the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines.

Singapore have been drawn in Group B alongside powerhouses Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam as well as Laos and Brunei for the 30th edition of the Games.

As part of the final phase of preparations, the team gathered for a centralised training camp in Japan under Head Coach Fandi Ahmad from 26 October to 7 November.

Apart from daily training sessions, the team played three friendlies against university teams from the Kanto University Football League during their 13 days in Gotemba. The team lost 2-0 to Takushoku University and 4-2 to Meiji Gakuin University in their first two friendlies, and drew 0-0 with Nippon Sport Science University in their final friendly.

Fandi was pleased with how the team’s performances improved with every game, despite the unavailability of some players.

“Overall, it was a good training camp,” he said. “We played against high-level university teams from the second and third divisions of the league. I thought we did very well in the last game against a top team from the second division that is fighting for promotion to the first division. Players like Ryhan (Stewart) and Shah (Shahiran) made good contributions to the team in the game; so did Tajeli (Salamat), who played very well. While the scores for the three games were not what we hoped for, the coaching team and I were happy with how the team actually performed. The boys were strong tactically and defensively while displaying intensity, discipline and teamwork during the matches.

“One setback from this training camp was that we could not get all the players together at the same time. It was very difficult for us as a team, as we could not test certain formations and positions. We had many injuries during this preparation period as well.

“Although we couldn’t use our best players for some games, overall we are still quite happy with the training. We have seen improvements within the team from the first two games to the third game. The coaches and I have seen about 70 per cent of the players whom we know will be in the starting line-up, and we are looking for a couple more players to fill the remaining positions.”

Some of the players agreed that the camp was beneficial in their preparations for the SEA Games and noted in particular the added intensity in training sessions.

Hougang United defender Jordan Vestering said: “The training camp was a good experience to play against the Japanese teams and preparation for us to gauge ourselves ahead of the SEA Games. Teams like Thailand and Vietnam are technically good and physically strong. We need to be prepared for the level of intensity at the SEA Games.”

Young Lions midfielder Naqiuddin Eunos added: “It was a good training camp and even though we had double sessions every day and everyone looked tired, the trainings were productive and I think we achieved what our coaches wanted from us. “The SEA Games will be a hard fight for us. Every team wants to make it to the final; so do we. It will be physically and mentally tiring but we need to push through this month and put in the effort. We have forged a strong team spirit and bonding during this camp and I believe we can do it as a team.”

The Under-22s will continue their final phase of preparations before departing for the SEA Games on 23 November 2019.