With one eye on the upcoming SEA Games, can the Courts Young Lions make a fist of their S.League campaign?
What happened in 2014?
Home ground: Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore
Nickname: The Young Lions
Last Season: 11th place
League Cup: Did not participate
Singapore Cup: Did not participate
With the inclusion of a number of exciting youngsters, hopes of a successful season was high but the pre-season optimism soon gave way to frustration as they began with an ominous 4-0 home defeat against Balestier Khalsa.
The Young Lions only got their first win eight games in and they spent the majority of the season in the bottom two spots. A 1-0 loss to their Harimau Muda counterparts with four games to go saw them hit rock-bottom, but fortunately two wins and a draw in the last four games helped avert disaster.
With the SEA Games coming up in three months’ time, the Young Lions have every incentive to perform in the S.League and fight for the coveted spots to represent their nation.
Losing hotshot Sahil Suhaimi to the LionsXII was definitely a big blow, but they have swooped in to bring in former Warriors winger Suria Prakash, the exciting Adam Swandi, as well as former LionsXII duo Shakir Hamzah and Shahfiq Ghani.
The Gaffer – Aide Iskandar
Considering that he has to deal with the inevitable issue of missing players due to National Service (NS), the former national captain has done fairly well in his budding coaching career so far.
While league results have been inconsistent, he has managed to lead the Under-23s to a bronze medal finish in the 2013 SEA Games as well as oversee a decent showing at last September’s Asian Games.
The pressure is on him to gather a side good enough to win a gold medal when the SEA Games comes along in June.
There are a number of capped internationals in this side, namely Shakir, Shahfiq, Suria, Anumanthan Mohan Kumar, Amirul Adli and Al-Qaasimy Rahman. These players should be better equipped in terms of how to handle experienced opponents.
The number of young legs in this team also means that they could potentially outrun and outlast teams where with players over 30.
Sahil's absence has left a large void to be filled, given his natural goalscoring instincts. It's hard to see where the goals will come from this season – Shahfiq and Adam are more support forwards, while Amy Recha is still learning the ropes.
Players To Watch
- Adam Swandi
After a two-year stint in France with FC Metz’s Under-19 team, Adam is now back on local shores and aiming to earn a slot in this year’s SEA Games squad.
The precocious 19-year-old possesses an intelligent footballing brain and his playmaking abilities could thrill fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium again – just like he did in the Canon Lion City Cup back in 2011 and 2012.
- Suria Prakash
The talented 21-year-old successfully got his NS deferred after a breakout season with Warriors FC, and is now ready to play an integral part in the Young Lions setup.
A talented dribbler with loads of pace, Suria’s presence is key to the team finding space in the attacking third.
- Shahfiq Ghani
Despite a poor 2014 in terms of output, Shahfiq undoubtedly remains the most important piece of Aide’s jigsaw puzzle.
Technically gifted with the knack of hitting superb freekicks, this could be a year of redemption for the talented 22-year-old attacker.
Kenneth's 2015 S.League Prediction: 7th
The lack of a natural goalscorer will affect their chances of a better finish. But it's also a chance for someone else to step up and show coach Aide what he can do ahead of the SEA Games.