Press Releases ● Dec 04, 2015
FAS to field a younger team in the S.League next year
In line with our focus on youth development, FAS‚Äô team in the S.League
will comprise mainly Under-21 players
SINGAPORE, 4 DECEMBER 2015: The Football Association of Singapore‚Äôs (FAS) Executive Committee (ExCo) decided today that FAS will continue to field a young team in the S.League next season, which is in line with our focus on youth development. This team will comprise mainly Under-21 players and will also include some players above the age of 21 with the aim of providing leadership ‚Äì as was our practice at the 2014 Asian Games where the likes of Hassan Sunny and Baihakki Khaizan played a key role in mentoring and leading our young team. The FAS ExCo believes this is the best approach to preparing the young team for upcoming international competitions.
Following this decision, the majority of the players from LionsXII will move to the S.League teams. FAS is discussing with the S.League clubs on the best approach to the release of these players and a decision on the arrangement is expected to be finalised next week.
Balestier Khalsa FC Chairman, Mr S. Thavaneson, insists that the League and clubs are here to serve the national cause. He said: ‚ÄúIt has always been the objective of the S.League to serve as a platform to develop and supply players for the national team. In this regard, the S.League, including the Young Lions, and the LionsXII project have all played a key role in the development of many young players who subsequently progressed to the national team over the past decade, including Shahril Ishak, Khairul Amri and Safuwan Baharudin.
‚ÄúI am a strong advocate of youth development and I strongly support the decision by the FAS ExCo to field a young team comprising mostly players aged 21 and below and led by a few senior players. This will give our young players the opportunity to play competitive football against professional teams on a regular basis, which would in turn widen the pool of talent for the National Coach‚Äôs selection. They will also learn from the experience of the senior players who had faced hostile overseas crowds on a regular basis previously.
‚ÄúMost of the players in the LionsXII team are graduates of our youth development system, including the National Football Academy, Club Centres of Excellence programmes and the Young Lions, and the return of the LionsXII players to the S.League will further enhance the competitiveness and appeal of our professional league.‚Äù
LionsXII Head Coach Fandi Ahmad is looking forward to seeing his players grow and develop further in the S.League next season. He said: ‚ÄúI‚Äôm just happy that our LionsXII players can now prepare and move on to the next phase of their footballing career. With the exposure gained in a foreign league, these players are now looking forward to returning to the S.League ‚Äì where all of them played in before representing the LionsXII. The interests and welfare of our players are of utmost importance to the FAS and I am confident that a fair arrangement will be worked out between FAS and the S.League clubs.
He added: ‚ÄúI am also proud to see these players grow over the past few years, and they are now ready to bring even more excitement to the S.League. During the first few years of the S.League when I was still playing, my national teammates were also playing for different clubs and the intensity and quality of football was evident. I firmly believe this is the best approach for the continued development of these players. It will be an exciting season, and I want to encourage all our fans who stood by us the past few years to turn up and support our local League.‚Äù
LionsXII player Gabriel Quak said: ‚ÄúFAS has assured us that they will be working closely with us to secure a playing contract with one of the S.League clubs, and with at least the same salary which we receive now. We have gained regional exposure playing in a foreign league, and we are looking forward to returning to the S.League. We want to ask our fans to support the S.League. The professionalism of the FAS management and their efforts in ensuring our welfare deserves mention, and we are thankful to the management for always being there for us.‚Äù
Singapore National Team striker Khairul Amri said: ‚ÄúWe appreciate the immediate and swift action by FAS in addressing the issue, and in placing as its top priority the interests of the players. We will work hard and fight for our place at the respective clubs, so as to strengthen our chances of being called up to the national team for the year-end AFF Suzuki Cup.‚Äù
FAS General Secretary, Winston Lee, explained that the decision to release the LionsXII players back to the clubs had been thoroughly discussed: ‚ÄúI want to thank all our stakeholders, including fans and clubs, for their feedback and support.
He added: ‚ÄúWe have extensively discussed the options available to us, and while it is not an easy decision, we have decided the best way forward would be to integrate our LionsXII players into the various S.League clubs, while retaining a few senior players to lead and guide our young team in the S.League next season.‚Äù
Long-time Lions fan Akbar Hashim is supportive of the decision, saying: ‚ÄúWhile I‚Äôm sad that most of the LionsXII players will not participate together as a team next season, I am excited about the younger squad that FAS will be fielding in the S.League next year, which could possibly include exciting young stars such as Irfan Fandi, Adam Swandi and Amirul Adli. I also believe the FAS‚Äô decision will enable all the local S.League clubs to further strengthen their teams. We will continue to support Singapore football, including the S.League and the National Team which will participate in the year-end AFF Suzuki Cup. I look forward to the new season.‚Äù
FAS will make a further announcement before the end of next week.
CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE