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)

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

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 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’).

Team and country comes first for new Azkals coach Dooley

Newly-installed Philippines coach Thomas Dooley has warned his players that the team and country will come first under his reign.

Following weeks of speculation over who would succeed Michael Weiss in taking over the Azkals, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) confirmed earlier this week that Dooley had been handed the reins.

The former United States captain has reportedly been handed a one-year deal, with his immediate task to win the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, and his contract could be extended if he does indeed manage to lead Philippines to next year’s AFC Asian Cup in Australia, as confirmed by PFF president Mariano Araneta.

And being no stranger to representing his country with pride, having won 81 caps for the United States despite being born in Germany, Dooley insists his players will have to put their team first and play to do the nation proud.

“Everybody should come in and know that it’s a team,” he said, according to ABS-CBN News.

“They are representing the whole country and the fans in the Philippines are proud. We can do a great job to make them happy.

“That’s what everybody has to understand, but there’s a lot of work [to be done].”

The 52-year-old also revealed that technical ability, tactical discipline and fitness will be key factors he will take into account when choosing his squad, starting in the first week of March when the Azkals take on Malaysia and Azerbaijan in friendlies.

“Firstly, technically, you have to be good with the ball,” Dooley explained. “If you cannot handle the ball, then it’s difficult.

“The second thing is you have to understand what your role is in the game. For example, if I have a centre-back who is always up front and leaves the back, then I have to talk to him.

“This is your position and you have to play that role. He has to understand the tactical part.

“The last thing is you have to be fit. If you’re not fit, you can’t play.

“It is impossible to play a professional game or in the national team if you are not fit.”

Dooley, who has already attended a couple of United Football League games since arriving in the country, also revealed he would be reaching out to Philippines’ overseas-based contingent in the coming weeks.

Ex-United States captain Dooley set to take charge of Azkals

Former United States captain Thomas Dooley is set to succeed Michael Weiss and be named the new coach of Philippines.

The Azkals have been on the hunt for a new coach since parting ways earlier this month with Weiss, who led them to the semi-finals of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup, as well as their highest-ever placing in the FIFA World Rankings.

But it has now been revealed that the vacancy will be filled shortly as the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) finalise a deal for Dooley’s services.

The 52-year-old was born in Germany but qualified to play for the United States through his father, and he became an American citizen in 1992 before playing every minute of their 1994 FIFA World Cup campaign.

Dooley, who also captained the United States at the 1998 World Cup in France, has won the Bundesliga and UEFA Cup with Kaiserslautern and Schalke respectively, before ending his career in the MLS with spells at Columbus Crew and Metrostars, who are now known as the New York Red Bulls.

Given Dooley’s wealth of experience as a player, Azkals team manager Dan Palami is confident they have got the right man for the job.

“I think his experience as a player and coach will help us,” Palami told Inquirer.

“After talking to several candidates, who also had good credentials, we think that he is the best choice.”

Dooley’s first match in charge of the Azkals will be an international friendly against Malaysia on March 1.

Kiatisuk named Thailand coach after SEA Games triumph

Kiatisuk Senamuang has been named coach of the Thailand national team just a week after leading the Under-23 side to victory at the 2013 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

The 40-year-old’s appointment as the boss of the senior side was confirmed at a Football Association of Thailand (FAT) board meeting.

“Everybody agreed to his appointment,” FAT acting president Worawi Makudi told the Bangkok Post.

Kiatisuk will continue to be in charge of the U-23s, but his first assignment with the War Elephants’ senior side will come in March in their final 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Lebanon.

Thailand have already been eliminated and condemned to a bottom-place finish in Group B following a 3-1 defeat to Kuwait last month, which led to the departure of Surachai Jaturapattarapong.

Kiatisuk took charge of the War Elephants earlier in the year on an interim basis following Winfried Schafer’s resignation, and led them to an impressive 5-1 win over China with a side consisting just four players over the age of 23.

And just last week, he successfully led the U-23s to a 12th SEA Games gold medal after they beat Indonesia in the final.

Kiatisuk remains one of Thailand’s most celebrated footballers having scored 70 goals in 131 games for national team, as well as having spells abroad in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and at English side Huddersfield, although he failed to make a single appearance during his time there.