SINGAPORE: The Singapore Under-23 football team's hopes of going to the Asian Games this August are all but over after they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Myanmar on Wednesday (Jun 20).
The game had been set up for the team to justify their inclusion in the Singapore contingent for the Games in Indonesia.
But with Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) president Tan Chuan-Jin watching in the stands, the Young Lions were unable to match Myanmar, who included just one player from the side that competed at the U-20 World Cup in 2015.
The rest of the Myanmar team were made up of players aged 20 and below, according to their head coach Myo Hlaing Win. In comparison, about half the Singapore U-23 team are aged 21 and below.
Singapore U-23 head coach Fandi Ahmad admitted that he could "see the difference" between both teams, explaining that his team had a lack of preparation. The team had only one training session together before playing the game because of the players' exertions in the Singapore Premier League.
Fandi cannot confirm if the Football Association of Singapore will be continuing with their appeal to SNOC for the U-23 team to make the Singapore contingent.
"It's beyond my control and not my decision (with regard to the appeal). We hope it can spur the boys to do better in the future," said Fandi.
"Actually, we (the coaches) never thought about the Asian Games. We just wanted to give an opportunity to the players. Obviously we are disappointed to lose ... (but) we are happy to get a chance to play."
Fandi certainly did give opportunities to the players - 22 of the 23 took to the pitch against Myanmar - and said he was impressed with some of their performances, although he lamented the fact that the team were missing three key players in Ikhsan Fandi, Adam Swandi and Taufiq Muqminin.
He added that Mr Tan, who also chairs the SNOC Selection Committee for the Asian Games, told the team after the game that "he was quite happy" with what he saw.
"He saw the commitment, he said it was a good sign and he want us to improve," said Fandi.
MORE FRIENDLIES BEING ARRANGED FOR THE TEAM
Plans are in the pipeline for the team to play more friendly games, Fandi revealed to reporters at the post-match press conference.
The team will be taking on Macau on Jun 27, as well as play a triangular tournament featuring Australian club sides Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix in Singapore on Aug 4.
"This is how we want to develop the players. A majority were playing in the Prime League last year ... we need more matches like this. Hopefully we can give them an opportunity to play and they can up their levels, expose them for the national team in future," he said.