Aide names provisional Singapore squad for SEA Games

Singapore Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar named his 30-man provisional squad for the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on Wednesday evening.

As expected, the bulk of the roster comes from Aide’s Courts Young Lions side, with 21 players from the S.League outfit having been called up.

However, four men from Malaysia Super League outfit LIONSXII were also named, including full internationals Faris Ramli and Sahil Suhaimi, who both also featured in last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup.

Furthermore, a total of seven players were part of the side that won the bronze medal in Myanmar back in 2013, including Faris, Sahil, Shahfiq Ghani and Al-Qaasimy Rahman.

There were also places for five not currently plying their trade with either of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) sides LIONSXII and Young Lions, with the likes of Balestier Khalsa duo Nurullah Hussein and Ho Wai Loon, as well as Home United winger Stanely Ng, all rewarded for their impressive starts to 2015.

The draw for the SEA Games also took place on Wednesday with Singapore being drawn in Group A alongside Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Philippines.

Although the draw appears to be favourable to the Singaporeans, Aide was keen to stress there would be no room for complacency.

“While Group B appears to be the tougher group, we must remember that there are no minnows in Southeast Asian football these days,” he said.

“Many of our neighbours have made a lot of progress in recent years, and that is why we will not be underestimating any team.”

Goalkeepers: Syazwan Buhari, Rudy Khairullah, Fashah Iskandar (all Courts Young Lions)

Defenders: Shakir Hamzah, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Fadli Kamis, Amirul Adli, Irfan Fandi, Taufiq Muqminin (all Courts Young Lions), Zakir Samsudin (LIONSXII), Nurullah Hussein, Ho Wai Loon (both Balestier Khalsa)

Midfielders: Faris Ramli, Christopher van Huizen (both LIONSXII), Safirul Sulaiman, M. Anumanthan, Shamil Sharif, Adam Swandi, Shameer Aziq, Afiq Noor, Suria Prakash, Pravin Gunasagaran (all Courts Young Lions), Stanely Ng, Muhaimin Suhaimi (both Home United)

Forwards: Shahfiq Ghani, Iqbal Hussain, Amy Recha (all Courts Young Lions), Sahil Suhaimi (LIONSXII), Taufik Suparno (Tampines Rovers)

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Singapore to meet Indonesia; Thais face Malaysia, Vietnam

Hosts Singapore’s hopes of advancing to the semi-finals of the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games were handed a boost on Wednesday after they were handed a fairly favourable draw.

Seeded as hosts for the Under-23 tournament, the Lions were drawn in Group A alongside Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Philippines.

With only the top two progressing to the last four, it looks like Singapore will be battling for qualification with the Indonesians and Myanmar.

Nonetheless, Cambodia will be confident in their prospects having recorded a 2-1 win over Singapore just last month, while Philippines have taken huge strides in recent years and are now considered a legitimate threat in the region.

But it appears most of the drama will come in Group B after defending champions Thailand were pitted against 2011 winners Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei Darussalam and Timor-Leste.

Under Kiatisuk Senamuang, who also guided the senior team to victory at the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup, the Thais are favourites to finish top with Malaysia and Vietnam expected to battle it out for the second qualifying berth.

However, with the likes of Soukaphone Vongchiengkham and Ketsada Souksavanh to call upon, Laos could just spring an upset or two along the way.

2015 Southeast Asian Games Draw

Group A: Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines

Group B: Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei Darussalam, Timor-Leste

Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia to meet; Lions set for Japan duel

Three of Southeast Asia’s traditional heavyweights – Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia – will face off in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers are they were all drawn in Group F on Tuesday.

The draw for the second round of qualification took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and saw a total of ten teams from Southeast Asia find out their path to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which will see each of them play eight matches from June to next March.

Apart from the World Cup, the qualifiers will also double up for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, which means Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia all stand an excellent chance of progressing to the continent’s biggest tournament.

Although Iraq are favourites to finish top of Group F, the trio of Southeast Asian countries will all fancy their prospects of fighting it out for second place, given the remaining team is minnows Chinese Taipei.

Over in Group E, Singapore and Cambodia both face a tricky route to the next round after being pitted against Asian giants Japan, Syria and Afghanistan.

Malaysia find themselves in Group A along with regional rivals Timor-Leste, although they will be aware they will have to get a result against either United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia or Palestine to have any chance of advancing to the Asian Cup.

Neighbours Myanmar and Laos will meet in Group G along with Korea Republic, Kuwait and Lebanon, while Philippines face Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Korea DPR and Yemen in Group H.

2018 FIFA World Cup Second Round Qualifying Draw

Group A: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Timor Leste, Malaysia

Group B: Australia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh

Group C: China, Qatar, Maldives, Bhutan, Hong Kong

Group D: Iran, Oman, India, Turkmenistan, Guam

Group E: Japan, Syria, Afghanistan, Singapore, Cambodia

Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei

Group G: Korea Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Laos

Group H: Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Philippines, Korea DPR, Yemen

Gary, Nazmi lead the way in OKS’ preliminary SEA Games squad

Malaysia’s preparations for the upcoming 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games has taken another big step after coach Ong Kim Swee revealed his 30-man preliminary squad.

Leading the way are Selangor playmaker Nazmi Faiz, who was only 17 when he was part of the side that won the gold medal at the Under-23 tournament in 2011, and Johor Darul Ta’zim’s combative midfielder Gary Robbat,  who represented the senior team in the last two editions of the AFF Suzuki Cup but is yet to make his SEA Games bow, having missed out through injury two years ago.

Apart from Nazmi, Ong has included three others that were also present when they finished first in Indonesia four years ago, namely forward Syahrul Azwari and defenders Amer Saidin and Fandi Othman.

Seven players in the 30-man roster also have SEA Games experience from 2013, including left-back Nazirul Naim, who had a brief spell at Japanese outfit FC Ryukyu, and Sabah forward Rozaimi Abdul Rahman.

Ong confirmed to Football SEA that it was almost certain the 20 players that will make the final cut would come from this 30-man squad, and stressed it was important for them to be in excellent condition and injury-free by the time the SEA Games comes around at the start of June.

Apart from the usual suspects like Nazmi, Gary and Rozaimi, others who could make an impact for the Malaysians include Kedah winger Farhan Roslan, who narrowly missed out on a place in the senior team at last year’s Suzuki Cup, and 18-year-old starlet Ariff Farhan, who is currently plying his trade in the S.League with Harimau Muda.

There was also a place in the provisional roster for new Pahang signing Matthew Davies, an Australian-born full-back who qualifies for Malaysian citizenship through his mother, who hails from Sabah.

Nonetheless, Ong did stress he would be treated the same as every other player and would have to prove his worth in order to earn his spot in the final 20-man list.

Malaysia’s 30-man provisional squad for 2015 SEA Games

Goalkeepers: Farhan Abu Bakar (Harimau Muda), Syazwan Yusoff (Kelantan), Firdaus Muhamad (Kedah)

Defenders: Che Rashid Che Halim (Johor Darul Ta’zim II), Fandi Othman, Amer Saidin (both Johor Darul Ta’zim), Arif Fadzilah Abu Bakar (T-Team), Syazwan Tajuddin (Kedah), Nazirul Naim, Wan Ahmad Amirzafran (both Harimau Muda), Matthew Davies (Pahang)

Midfielders: Gary Robbat (Johor Darul Ta’zim), Akram Mahinan (Johor Darul Ta’zim II), Nurridzuan Abu Hassan (Perak), Nor Azam Azih, D. Saarvindran (both Pahang), Ariff Farhan, Syahrul Azwari, Adam Nor Azlin, Amirul Hisyam (all Harimau Muda), Nazmi Faiz, Saiful Ridzuwan Selamat (both Selangor), Ferris Danial (FELDA United), Farhan Roslan (Kedah)

Forwards: Faizat Ghazli, S. Kumaahran (both Harimau Muda), Syafiq Ahmad (Kedah), Rozaimi Abdul Rahman (Sabah), Arip Amiruddin (PKNS FC)

Singapore come from behind twice to deny Guam big scalp

Singapore had to come from behind twice on Tuesday evening to prevent falling to an embarrassing defeat after a 2-2 draw with Guam at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

In what proved to be an impressive start by the visitors, they started the brighter of the two sides and carved out a host of chances in the opening exchanges.

Shane Malcolm looked the likeliest source of a Guam goal as he regularly found his way in behind the opposition defence, although he could only fire into the side-netting from a tight angle after rounding Izwan Mahbud in the fifth minute, before having a low shot saved by the Lions keeper four minutes later after skipping past two men.

The hosts had an excellent chance to break the deadlock when Baihakki Khaizan made a darting run to the near post to meet Zulfahmi Arifin’s corner and nodded it towards the far post, although Alexander Lee was perfectly positioned to hack the ball to safety.

But eight minutes before halftime, Matao opened the scoring after Malcolm held the ball up inside the area before sending a low cross into the six-yard box, where Shawn Nicklaw proceeded to nip in ahead of Izwan and stab the ball home.

Nonetheless, the Lions pulled level nine minutes into the second half when Ismadi Mukhtar found space down the right and floated a lovely cross onto the head of Faris Ramli, who made no mistake in planting a firm header past Bijan Gloston.

Still, Guam reclaimed the lead in the 73rd minute and it was a strike worthy of winning any contest; Jason Cunliffe latching onto a throw-in and sending a stunning first-time half volley with the outside of his left foot looping over Izwan and into the far corner.

However, the hosts did managed to respond once more with ten minutes remaining when a short corner routine eventually saw Shahril make his way to the edge of box and float a dangerous delivery for Baihakki to volley into the back of the net.

Singapore did have one final chance to win it in injury-time when Shahril charged through the middle and curled away a shot from the edge of the box, but Gloston produced a brilliant flying save to deny the Lions the victory.

Singapore: Izwan Mahbud, Ismadi Mukhtar, Baihakki Khaizan, Zulfahmi Arifin, Shakir Hamzah, Hariss Harun, Safuwan Baharudin, Sahil Suhaimi (Gabriel Quak 46’), Shahril Ishak, Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri (Shahfiq Ghani 73’).

Guam: Dallas Jaye (Bijan Gloston 46’), Alexander Lee (Min Choi 90’), Mason Grimes, Brandon McDonald, Nathaniel Lee (Micah Paulino 58’), Ryan Guy, Justin Lee (Dylan Naputi 69’), Shawn Nicklaw, Jason Cunliffe, Shane Malcolm (Jan Staman 85’), John Matkin.

Attendance: 1,864

Singapore U-23s handed shock defeat by Cambodia U-22s

Singapore Under-23’s preparations for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games were handed a real blow on Thursday after they were beaten 3-1 by Cambodia Under-22.

The Lions got off to a dream start at the Jalan Besar Stadium when they took the lead after just two minutes; Sahil Suhaimi beating the offside trap to latch onto Shahfiq Ghani’s visionary over-the-top pass before emphatically firing into the back of the net.

However, the visitors shot themselves in the foot a minute before the break when Shakir Hamzah was too casual inside his own area and lost possession to Phanny Y Ratha, who made no mistake in firing past an exposed Syazwan Buhari.

Things got from bad to worse for the hosts in the 67th minute when they conceded a penalty – and were also reduced to ten men – after Shakir Hamzah committed a last-man foul Prak Mony Udom, who picked himself up and slotted the resultant spot-kick into the bottom corner.

And in the 72nd minute, the Royal Khmers wrapped up the win when Samoeun Pidor broke free inside the box after an incisive pass from Mony Udom, before coolly finishing past Syazwan.

To add insult to injury, Singapore finished the game with nine men when Sheikh Abdul Hadi was also shown a straight red for an off-the-ball altercation with an opponent.

Speaking after the game, Singapore U-23 boss Aide Iskandar admitted Thursday’s defeat was disappointing but called for patience ahead of the upcoming SEA Games.

“We can have no excuses,” he said. “Today’s [Thursday’s] performance was not good enough.

“The penalty was the turning point at 1-1, but we have to accept it. It was never going to be easy going a goal down and a man down from that penalty, but give credit to Cambodia – they came with a game plan and it worked.

“For me, the fans have every right to shout whatever they want to, but they have to realise this is not the real tournament yet.

“I have to apologise to the fans who came down and were disappointed. But rest assured we are working hard to make sure we have a good SEA Games.

“I’m still committed and I am confident the boys will put on a good showing.”

Meanwhile, Cambodia boss Lee Tae-hoon was pleased with his charges even though he feels they were a bit fortunate on the night.

“I told my players to just play with confidence,” the South Korean said. “They worked very hard and they followed instructions well.

“I think we got the three goals because Singapore made mistakes so I think we got quite lucky.”

Singapore U-23: Syazwan Buhari, Fadli Kamis (Al-Qaasimy Rahman 60’), Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Shakir Hamzah, Farhan Rahmat (Safirul Sulaiman 60’), M. Anumanthan (Pravin Gunasegaran 90’), Amirul Adli (Shamil Sharif 53’, Taufiq Muqminin 78’), Adam Swandi (Shameer Aziq 51’), Shahfiq Ghani (Amy Recha 68’), Iqbal Hussain (Christopher van Huizen 53’), Sahil Suhaimi (Irfan Fandi 51’).

Cambodia U-22: Prak Mony Phirun, San Thideth (Ngoy Srin 31’), Nub Tola (Chheng Meng 73’), Nen Sothearoth (Ly Arifin 84’), Prak Chanratana, Moung Makara (Samoeun Pidor 61’), Hoy Phallin (Soeuy Visal 54’), Ol Ravy (Sary Matnorotin 25’, Op Kamol 87’), Rous Samoeun, Phanny Y Ratha (Tit Dina 73’), Chan Vathanaka (Prak Mony Udom 61’).

Cambodia, Timor-Leste through to second round; Brunei ousted

Cambodia are through to the second round of qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after a 1-1 draw with Macau on Tuesday was enough to send them through 4-1 on aggregate.

Following a 3-0 win over Macau in last Friday’s first leg, the Royal Khmers only need to avoid defeat at the Macau Olympic Complex to guarantee their place in the next round.

However, just for good measure, they took the lead two minutes before the half-hour mark when Thierry Chantha Bin netted his first goal in international colours.

Macau did equalise on the night in the 52nd minute when Leong Ka Hang netted from the penalty spot but it was little more than a consolation, as the Cambodians held out to advance.

The other Southeast Asian side that will be joining them in the second round are Timor-Leste¸who beat Mongolia 1-0 at the MFF Football Centre to record a 5-1 aggregate triumph.

The only goal of the game arrived after just nine minutes Patrick Fabiano found the back of the net, which ultimately proved enough to seal their place in the next stage.

However, there was no such joy for Brunei Darussalam as they were eliminated by Chinese Taipei 2-1 on aggregate following a 2-0 defeat at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.

Despite leading 1-0 from last Friday’s first leg, Tebuan fell behind in the 37th minute through a Wang Rui strike, before Chu En-le added a second eight minutes after halftime to win it for the visitors.