As the weekend came to an end, so did the inaugural NexLions Cup, where the Singapore Youth Selection team came in 4th after facing off against the likes of the U-19 sides of English giants Man United and Liverpool FC.
Coach Aide Iskandar, ex-national team captain, said that despite having only three and a half weeks to prepare for the tournament, he is proud of his boys.
“They have played their best and now they know they can compete against these clubs. Credit to the boys, they tried to win.”
Team captain Raihan Rahman added that it was a special experience for many of his teammates to have a chance to pit their wits against some of the world’s biggest football clubs. He said, “For some of the players it was a dream come true to play against Man United and Liverpool.”
Coach Aide believes that tournaments such as the NexLions Cup and the Lion City Cup will definitely benefit not just the Singapore youth footballers, but also their foreign counterparts, as the discomfort they felt with the humidity playing a huge part in grooming their players to play in harsh conditions away from home.
His sentiments were shared by Man Utd Academy Coach Brian McClair. “This tournament will prepare the players to move towards the first team. It is a simulation for their future. Playing professional football will require them to play in discomfort, physically and mentally.”
As for the Singapore Youth Selection, many of whom have little or no experience playing at a higher level, there is plenty to learn from their overseas counterparts. Learning the way they play, how quickly they move, the high intensity and finesse.
Indeed, seeing how the Singapore Youth Selection team faced off against these young professionals has restored my faith in local football and believe there is a future for the sport. These boys though smaller than the likes of Sporting Lisbon, Man Utd and Liverpool have proved their worth.
They played fearlessly and tried their best for every ball, having sheer determination. With hard work and determination the only thing missing from this concoction is the never dying support of fans.
Singapore football needs its fans. The future of Singapore football isn’t when we produce a generation of great footballers. Singapore needs the support of its fans in order to produce great footballers.
So why not lend your support to our Singapore Lions? Beginning with the Suzuki Cup final where we have the chance to win for an unprecedented fourth time. So lend your cheers and support our boys in red. Oh, and don’t forget to bring those scarves to any future matches as well.
For more information on the Singapore National Team, Lions XII and the Singapore Youth Selection, visit Singaporesports.sg facebook page or www.fas.org.sg.