SINGAPORE: The Singapore Under-23 (U23) football team will be playing a pivotal match against Myanmar's Under-23 team on Jun 20, according to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
The upcoming match could lend support to FAS' appeal to the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and Sport Singapore (SportSG) to include the team in Singapore's Asian Games lineup.
It was reported in May that the Singapore Under-23 team had failed to gain a nomination from the SNOC to participate in the upcoming Asian Games.
For athletes to receive a nomination, they have to meet the "selection criteria of a sixth-place finish at the Asian level", said SNOC.
The deadline for National Sports Associations to meet the qualifying mark for the Asian Games is Jun 15, but a SNOC spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia that the sports body will "consider extending the deadline" for those whose competitions fall after the stipulated date.
"However, any new results will have to be submitted in time for the entry by name deadline on 30 June," SNOC added.
HARD MATCH TO SECURE
The lead-up to the upcoming match, which kicks off at 8pm, was not easy either with FAS initially struggling to find opponents for a friendly match before securing the match with Myanmar despite tight schedules.
“It has been a challenge arranging international games outside of FIFA international windows and we would like to express our appreciation to the Myanmar Football Federation for accepting our invitation to play this friendly next week," said FAS' head of national teams management Eric Ong.
Nonetheless, the Singapore Under-23 team's head coach Fandi Ahmad remained positive stating that the match against Myanmar is a "good opportunity".
“This match against Myanmar provides a good opportunity for the U23 players who have been performing for their clubs in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) to gain invaluable international football experience.
"It will be a good test for us but with the support of our home fans, we are confident of a good showing against one of the best Asian youth teams in recent years," said Fandi.
Of the 22-man squad that will be playing next week, nine are new faces who were not called up for the friendly against Indonesia U23s in March, including six from the various SPL clubs, said FAS.
Myanmar qualified for the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand after reaching the semi-finals of the 2014 Asian Football Confederation Under-19 Championship, along with North Korea, Qatar and Uzbekistan.
Their senior team is ranked 138th in the latest FIFA World Ranking, with a number of players also playing in the Under-23 national team.
Ticket sales for the match, which will be played at Bishan Stadium, will start on Thursday at 10amvia the FAS website. Tickets can also be bought at the stadium on match day.
Singapore Under-23 squad:
Goalkeepers: Hairul Syirhan, Zharfan Rohaizad (Young Lions)
Defenders: Adam Hakeem, Irfan Fandi, Syahrul Sazali (Young Lions), Amirul Adli (Tampines Rovers), Faizal Roslan (Home United), Hafiz Sulaiman (Warriors), Illyas Lee (Hougang United), Darren Teh (Geylang International)
Midfielders: Haiqal Pashia, Hami Syahin, Joshua Pereira, Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Young Lions), Shameer Aziq, Zulfadhmi Suzliman (Tampines Rovers), Ammirul Emmran (Warriors), Muhaimin Suhaimi (Hougang United), Noor Akid Nordin (Balestier Khalsa)
Forwards: Ikhsan Fandi (Young Lions), Akbar Shah Zainudeen (Balestier Khalsa), Amiruldin Asraf (Home United)