National Teams – Age-group ● Mar 21, 2019
U22s fired up to do battle in wintry Mongolia
ULAANBAATAR, 21 MARCH 2019 – Having arrived in Mongolia two days ago, the Singapore Under-22 National Team is currently in their final phase of preparations for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship qualifiers.
Fandi Ahmad’s charges will kick off their campaign tomorrow against Hong Kong, before facing DPR Korea and Mongolia on 24 and 26 March respectively.
With matches set to be played in the Mongolian capital, where temperatures routinely fall below zero degree Celsius, the team has had to get used to playing in such conditions within a short period of time.
Forward Ikhsan Fandi, who plies his trade in Norway with second-tier outfit Raufoss, told FAS.org.sg: “When I first started training in Norway, it was cold and my legs felt heavy, which made it hard to run; I felt like I was (moving) in slow motion. But I adapted quicker than expected through training.” An important tip for his team-mates, Ikhsan added, was to “warm up well and keep moving” in order to cope.
Football Association of Singapore sports scientist Faizul Wahid commented: “The cold weather conditions experienced by the players in Mongolia is something that we will not take lightly. At the first instance of the cold weather, players will start to shiver and the coldness can be felt almost immediately in the extremities.”
He added: “Physical performance at this stage may be affected as the players will not be used to such conditions. However, studies have shown that with proper acclimatisation, such as prolonged exposure to the cold weather before a tournament, the negative effects of the exposure can be negated. Hence, it is important that the players are acclimatised as early as possible before the actual tournament starts.”
In order to acclimatise, the team spent around one and a half weeks in Japan for a training camp prior to arriving in Mongolia, where the similar cold conditions aided in simulating actual match conditions that they will face here.
Faizul and a team of backroom staff will be also taking measures to ensure that the players will be able to perform to their best on match-day in one of the coldest capital cities in the world.
“We consulted the experts from the Singapore Sports Institute on ways to keep the players at their peak,” he said. “Besides providing thermal wear to keep them warm, players will be given warm towels and heat-packs, especially for those on the bench. We have also increased the time used for warm-ups during trainings and games.
“In the lead up to the matches, it is also important to ensure that the players are constantly hydrated and consume a good mixture of proteins and carbohydrates. Players are also monitored through the GPS tracking system to ensure that they are not overly fatigued.”
While Singapore is the only ASEAN nation playing in a country with winter conditions for these qualifiers, Ikhsan vowed that the players are more than up for the fight: “The goal is to qualify for the AFC U23 tournament and doing that in such conditions will only show how determined we are.”
The matches will be live-streamed at the following links:
22 March – Hong Kong vs Singapore
24 March – Singapore vs DPR Korea
26 March – Singapore vs Mongolia