SINGAPORE: Albirex Niigata on Monday (Jan 8) announced their first two Singaporean signings to the team, in what the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) called a “historic moment”.
Midfielder Adam Swandi and goalkeeper Shahul Rayyan will both join Albirex Niigata FC (Singapore) for the S.League 2018 season, the White Swans said on their website on Monday.
This is the first time the Jurong East-based club has included local players in their roster since they made their debut in the S.League in 2004. Their squad has previously been fielded entirely by Japanese players.
“This is a historic moment for Singapore football as we have two of our local promising young players signing contracts with Albirex Niigata FC (S) for the first time,” said FAS President Mr Lim Kia Tong.
“Albirex is a stellar example of the new strategic pillars we have defined for the League – a focus on youth and community as well as capability development, and we are pleased that they are fully supportive of our direction to develop local youths for the national team.”
Albirex's signing of Adam, who turns 22 on Friday, and Shahul, who will turn 23 next month, comes following changes by the FAS for the 2018 S.League season.
Chief amongst them is an emphasis on “youth philosophy” to “rejuvenate” the league, said Mr Lim during the announcement of the changes last month.
Midfielder Adam, who spent last season at Home United, said that he did not hesitate when presented the opportunity to play for Albirex.
“It is definitely an honour to be signing for the best team in Singapore ... I believe that at Albirex, I will be able to develop my football to the next level,” Adam said in a statement on Albirex’s website on Monday.
Former Warriors FC goalkeeper Shahul said: “I am pleased to join Albirex Singapore after my national service in May. I will train very hard so that I can learn from the best team in Singapore, and realise my dream of becoming the top goalkeeper in Singapore.”