The Singapore Select XI are well into their training programme ahead of this week’s Barclays Asia Trophy and believe they could pull off a major shock against Arsenal on Wednesday night.
The Singaporean squad, which is made up of local players plus four foreign selections, began training under coach V Sundramoorthy on Friday.
The bulk of the team is made up of players from the Singapore national team, while there are also 12 LionsXII representatives in the 23-man squad.
Argentine striker Nicolas Velez (pictured above), one of the imported players in the team, is realistic about just how tough a task it will be taking on the Gunners and their superstar line-up.
But in an interview with FourFourTwo, the Warriors FC standout refused to write off the Singapore team’s chances of springing an upset.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Velez said ahead of the tournament openers at Singapore’s National Stadium. “We started training on Friday and I hope we can do well against Arsenal and you never know if we can make the final.
“We’ll try our best and you never know in football. They’re a top team with top players and of course we’re not favourites.
“But now that we’re training and preparing for the game, I think we’ll play well. We have a good team. We have all the LionsXII players, plus the foreign players will be able to help too.”
Velez began his professional career with Atletico Huracan in his native Argentina in 2010 before joining Spanish second division club Atletico Sanluqueno two years later.
He had an unhappy time in Spain, however, saying there were “many problems” at the Spanish club, so he asked his agent to look at options elsewhere.
“My agent asked me if I wanted to come to Singapore because he knew the Warriors’ coach (Alex Weaver) and I said yes. I wanted to see a different style of football and to learn about Asia.
“It was a good opportunity so I came last year, I did well, we were the champions and this year is also going well. I’ve had two nice years here.”
To say Velez “did well” is quite the understatement. In his first season in Singapore, he scored an impressive 28 goals in 35 appearances, helping Warriors FC to the S.League title.
His tally included 21 strikes in the S.League, second only to Brazilian Rodrigo Tosi (24 goals), who is also playing in the Barclays Asia Trophy.