11 Suzuki Cup debutants in Yoshida’s Lions squad
The Lions will seek a record-tying fifth Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship on home ground with 11 tournament rookies as they announced their final 28-player squad yesterday.
The debutants are goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad, defenders Nur Adam Abdullah, Iqram Rifqi and Tajeli Salamat, midfielders Saifullah Akbar, Hami Syahin and South Korea-born Song Ui-young as well as forwards Amy Recha, Hafiz Nor, Shawal Anuar and Ilhan Fandi.
Ilhan, who was on the standby list, was moved into the final squad by coach Tatsuma Yoshida. This means that the Fandi brothers - defender Irfan and forwards Ikhsan and Ilhan - could be fielded together in the senior side for the first time.
This is the first Suzuki Cup for Yoshida, who was appointed in May 2019.
The Japanese coach said: "Since selecting the provisional squad, I have been able to observe their behaviour, attitude, character and physical condition.
"During the Suzuki Cup, we have to stay together for a period of time, so it was important for me to see that they can all work well together and show good teamwork.
"Training has been intense and I have selected this team with my full confidence, having seen that everybody deserves to play and wear the national jersey."
STARTS ON SUNDAY
The Republic are in Group A and open their campaign against Myanmar on Sunday.
They then face the Philippines (Dec 8), Timor-Leste (Dec 14) and five-time champions Thailand (Dec 18).
Group B comprises defending champions Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos.
All matches in the Dec 5-Jan 1 tournament will be played at the National Stadium and Bishan Stadium.
Yoshida said: "The boys are well aware and appreciative that we will be playing on home soil and in front of our fans after more than two years, so I am sure they will showcase their full potential and play every game with emotion, with intensity and with passion.
"The team spirit is good and everyone knows their role in the team, both on and off the pitch.
"We respect every opponent, starting with Myanmar but we are ready for the challenge."
The Lions have had two weeks of centralised training and a 10-day training camp in Dubai, where they lost 2-1 to Kyrgyzstan in an international friendly before being thumped 7-1 by Morocco 'A' in a training match.
Lions captain Hariss Harun, who won his maiden Singapore Premier League title this year with the Lion City Sailors, said: "This is a huge tournament for us and as the home team, we know that the eyes of the nation are upon us, and expectations will be high.
"I have seen the amount of hard work and effort put in not just by my teammates but also the entire backroom staff.
"We need no other motivation for us to go out there, play for each other as well as for the flag, and hopefully bring pride and joy to Singapore and our fans."
Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny, Izwan Mahbud, Syazwan Buhari, Zharfan Rohaizad
Defenders: Amirul Adli, Nur Adam Abdullah, Tajeli Salamat, Iqram Rifqi, Irfan Fandi, Nazrul Nazari, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Zulqarnaen Suzliman
Midfielders: Adam Swandi, Hariss Harun, Saifullah Akbar, Song Ui-young, Shahdan Sulaiman, M. Anumanthan, Hami Syahin, Zulfahmi Arifin
Forwards: Faris Ramli, Hafiz Nor, Gabriel Quak, Amy Recha, Shawal Anuar, Ilhan Fandi, Ikhsan Fandi