National Team - Lions ● Nov 02, 2018

Lions return from Osaka camp, geared up for Suzuki Cup


SINGAPORE, 2 NOVEMBER 2018 – The Lions touched down today evening at Changi Airport after a fruitful training camp in Osaka, Japan.


Fandi Ahmad’s charges spent close to two weeks at J-GREEN Sakai, where they arrived on 21nd October, as part of their preparations for the upcoming ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.


A lively atmosphere was witnessed throughout the team’s stay, which also saw them bond off the pitch during time off in the city. Captain Hariss Harun felt that the stint built on the good morale generated by the run of results in the last two international windows, which saw Singapore win three and draw one in four games.


“I think things have been positive here,” he said. “Hard training is part and parcel of camps like these but of course, (it’s also about) how the boys spend time with each other and with the backroom staff; we eat together and we do almost everything together.


“That’s why this camp is very important, not only on the pitch in training but also off it for the togetherness, the team spirit, so I think it’s important we keep going this way.”

Young Lions right-back Zulqarnaen Suzliman concurred, noting how the players were “happy every day” and was also glad to have the opportunity to be mentored by the seniors in the team.


“It’s a privilege to be in the (same bunk) room with Baihakki (Khaizan),” the 20-year-old said. “He shared a lot of his experience and his achievements for the past 15, 16 years; it’s good for me as I can learn so much from him.


“Furthermore, (Khairul) Amri, Gabriel (Quak) and the rest of the senior players have all been talking to me and giving me motivation, and always telling me to play my best.”


Both players noted the conducive training environment that was afforded to the Lions at the facility, which boasts five full-size natural turf football pitches, nine artificial turf fields and eight futsal pitches.


The team played three training matches against Japanese teams, including one against a J1-League side during their time there. While the Lions were defeated in the games, Hariss felt that the results do not tell the whole story and was confident the team benefitted from playing against quality opposition.


“You can see how high the level is over here,” the Johor Darul Ta’zim skipper said. “It’s a good gauge for us as a team and we have to remember this experience, keep it with us and try to improve as individuals and as a team, only then can we get better. We have to be positive and look forward.


“You can see that the boys are really working hard for competition for places within the team; it’s important that we have this competitiveness in the team.”

With just a week to go until their Group B opener against Indonesia at home on 9 November, the Lions are in the final stretch of their preparations for Southeast Asia’s footballing showpiece.


They will resume training on Sunday evening as they gear up for the clash at the National Stadium and Hariss believes that the team is in the right mindset to do battle.


“The challenge that lies ahead of us is a tough one but if we want to achieve something, we have to go through these tough tests and make sacrifices,” he asserted.


“A lot of us have made a lot of sacrifices and now it’s time we try to get something good out of it, but we must realise that the only way we can do it is if we do it together.


“Technically and skill-wise, a lot of the countries in the region are better than us at this moment, but if we are one team, if we are one family together, out on the pitch and off the pitch, I think we can be something (great).”


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