Revenge on Singapore youth footballer Uchenna Eziakor’s mind at Lion City Cup
There will be more than a trophy at stake for Uchenna Eziakor when the Lion City Cup kicks off at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday.
Revenge is very much on the Lion City Sailors winger’s mind as the tournament retuns to Singapore after a seven-year hiatus. The Singapore Under-15 side play Selangor FC in the semi-finals on Friday but it is Thailand’s BG Pathum whom Uchenna is eyeing in the final.
Uchenna, whose father is former Hougang footballer Robert Eziakor, said: “I’m looking forward to playing against BG Pathum because the Lion City Sailors, we got thrashed 5-2 (by Pathum during a friendly in December) and I am looking for revenge.
“I know it’s gonna be tough. I know it’s going to be a great experience with this new national development centre team. I think we can beat them. We are a really, really strong team.”
Aside from the Singapore, Malaysian and Thai teams, the competition will also feature Indonesia’s Borneo FC.
Victory on Sunday will be the perfect send off for Uchenna, who received the Unleash the Roar! (UTR) scholarship in July alongside seven other footballers, as he will be heading to Spain on Monday for a year-long training stint.
He added: “I am really grateful to get the UTR! scholarship to go to Spain. With my family’s support, I’m hoping to become a good player.
“My dad is a really steadfast person, he always focuses on going forward. He said there’s only one Uchenna, so I just have to focus on myself.”
Another young cub looking to make his mark in the tournament is Sailors forward Nathan Mao, who had already made headlines as the youngest-ever debutant in the Singapore Premier League at 15 years and five days.
“I think for us with this squad, a realistic and achievable target for us is to win the tournament and for myself, hopefully get a couple of goals and assists.”
Teammate Harith Danish Irwan is also raring to go. The diminutive midfielder, who scored in the Singapore Sports School’s B Division football finals victory in April, added: “Of course it won’t be an easy one, I think we have to take it step by step first. And maybe if we win, it will boost our confidence and we’ll see.”
Youth teams from Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Ajax and Brazil’s Flamengo had previously competed in the Lion City Cup and with the Football Association of Singapore promising a returning of top European sides for future editions, Nathan is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
He said: “This year will definitely still be a good test for us, but it will always be good to play against these kinds of top teams in the future.”
“Once we play against regional opponents and we see what the outcome is, we can consider stronger European opponents for the future.”
Tickets for the Lion City Cup are available at www.fas.org.sg/tickets/, with prices starting at $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.