National Teams – Age-group ● Mar 20, 2018
Preview: Singapore Under-23 vs Indonesia Under-23
The ‘Florence Nightingale’ of local football, Nurhafizah Abu Sujad broadens the reach of her quest to keep footballers in top condition, joining the Lion City Sailors while retaining her role as National Teams Head Physiotherapist.
Singapore Under-23 Head Coach Fandi Ahmad and captain Illyas Lee with Indonesia Under-23 Head Coach Luis Milla and defender Ricky Fajrin.
The friendly takes place on Wednesday night (21 March) at the Singapore Sports Hub, with kick-off at 7.30pm. We preview the match, which is part of the RISING50 Celebrations to commemorate 50 years of warm bilateral relations with Indonesia…
Singapore legend Fandi Ahmad will take charge of his first competitive assignment as National Under-23 Head Coach in the first meeting between both sides since the 2015 South-East Asian (SEA) Games, which was played at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Follow the game
The match will be live-streamed on the FAS mycujoo platform. There will also be updates across our social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Of course, you can buy tickets here and come down to watch!
Fandi has picked 26 players, half of whom have never been capped at U-23 level before. The likes of Justin Hui, Adam Hakeem, Zulqarnean Suzliman and Naufal Azman will relish the chance to make their mark. There are some experienced figures – Adam Swandi, Amirul Adli and Ikhsan Fandi have already been capped at senior level.
This pales in comparison to their counterparts, where 19 of Luis Milla’s 23-man team have made their full international bows for the Garuda.
They finished a credible third at last August’s SEA Games in Malaysia, collecting three wins and two draws from five group games before losing to the hosts in the semi-finals. A solid 3-1 victory over Myanmar saw them go home with a medal. They suffered a narrow 3-2 home defeat to Syria’s U-23 side in a friendly in November and beat the Indonesia U-19 side 5-0 last month.
Both teams have met six times since the 2011 SEA Games. If Singapore manage to come out on top, it will be for only the second time – the sole win came in 2013 in a friendly at Jalan Besar Stadium, courtesy of Shahfiq Ghani’s ninth-minute penalty.
11/06/2015: Singapore 0-1 Indonesia (SEA Games)
02/04/2014: Singapore 1-2 Indonesia (Friendly)
13/07/2013: Singapore 1-0 Indonesia (Friendly)
08/06/2013: Indonesia 1-1 Singapore (Friendly)
15/07/2012: Indonesia 2-0 Singapore (Friendy)
11/11/2011: Singapore 0-2 Indonesia (SEA Games)
Keep an eye out for…
Ikhsan Fandi is expected to lead the line and the skillful striker is a genuine goal threat. The 18-year-old, who recently returned from trials with FC Groningen’s U-23 side, was a bright spark for the U-23s last year and will aim to step up to the next level this season.
Attacking midfielder Justin Hui, who made his league debut last season, is another one to watch. The Hougang United player did not look out of place at a professional level and has been tipped by club coach Philippe Aw as well as Fandi as someone with plenty of potential.
On the other side, the silky smooth Evan Dimas is a familiar name to most and is already a regular at senior level. Having won the league last year with Bhayangkara FC, the attacker moved to Selangor FA this season and is impressing in the Malaysian top flight.
His team-mate Egy Maulana is regarded by many as Indonesia’s next big thing and the hype has only increased after the 17-year-old forward signed a contract with Polish top-tier outfit Lechia Gdansk earlier this month.
What they said
Fandi knows his charges are in for a tough test but vowed they will “fight” and urged the fans to show up.
“It is very important that when we enter a game, we have the mindset of winning,” he said. “We have a good team, a fighting team, a (good) set of youngsters from 19 to 23 years old.
“Of course, the result is important as well because we are also vying for a spot at (this year’s) Asian Games… I am sure that the boys are very eager to show what they are made of.
“We’ve had five days of training (and) so far, the atmosphere and mood has been very good, the team bonding and understanding is there and we are very positive about this game.
“This is a chance for our young players to showcase their talent. We urge the fans to come because we are rebuilding our U-23 and Young Lions, developing them for the future of Singapore football.”
Captain Illyas Lee added: “We are all very excited… (having) grown up seeing Singapore play at the National Stadium. It will be a good opportunity to show our worth, fight for our future places and (try to) bring back the crowds.”