With an almost entirely new squad, the bulk of them under-21 players, this new breed of Young Lions can expect a baptism of fire in the upcoming S.League season.
GYL 2016 S.LEAGUE SQUAD
- Zharfan Rohaizad
- Kenji Syed Rusydi
- Benedict Loh
- Marcus Wheeler
- Shannon Stephen
- Taufiq Muqminin
- Amirul Azmi
- Ashrul Syafeeq
- Zakir Samsudin
- Irfan Asyraf
- Shameer Aziq
- Hami Syahin
- Ammirul Emmran
- Gareth Low
- Adam Swandi
- Firdaus Kasman
- Joshua Bernard Pereira
- Fareez Farhan
- Jonathan Tan
- Khairul Amri
- Hazim Faiz
- Muhaimin Suhaimi
- Shafeeq Faruk
- Taufik Suparno
- Shaheed Abraham
For much of the last three years, everything was geared towards preparing for the Road to Gold (medal) at the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games – except it did not exactly pan out that way.
Then came the inevitable, with the nucleus of the team having to ‘graduate’ from the developmental outfit. That includes the famed ‘Class of '92’ in which the likes of Syazwan Buhari, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Safirul Sulaiman, Shahfiq Ghani as well as Canadian-born duo of Sherif El-Masri and Jordan Webb were released.
With the 2017 SEA Games likely to be an under-21 competition, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) have opted for an all-local squad that is made up of mostly players who will meet that criteria.
Only about eight players have remained from last season, including centre-back Amirul Adli, midfielder Ammirul Emmran and star playmaker Adam Swandi. The new recruits have been brought in from either clubs or are promoted from the national under-18s.
Former LionsXII backup Zharfan Rohaizad is likely to be first-choice goalkeeper, with Kenji Syed Rusydi and Benedict Loh the deputies.
Marcus Wheeler has been brought in from Warriors FC and will challenge the likes of Shannon Stephen for a spot at right-back.
The promising Ashrul Syafeeq, son of former Singapore international Amin Nasir (the elder brother of Nazri), has also been promoted to help out at the heart of defence, while there are also Amirul and Taufiq Muqminin.
Midfielder Gareth Low, who impressed for the Singapore Under-16s during the 2013 Lion City Cup, have also earned the nod alongside National Football Academy (NFA) peer Joshua Bernard Pereira.
The latter caught the eye with his displays for the U18s during last year’s AFC U19 Championship. Five members of that memorable Youth Olympic Games (YOG) campaign in 2010 are also reunited in this squad.
Joining the retained Ammirul are namely full-back Irfan Asyraf, flying left winger Jonathan Tan, electric forward Muhaimin Suhaimi and poacher Hazim Faiz.
They have also bolstered their options in attack by snagging last season’s Prime League top scorer Shafeeq Faruk from Geylang International and keeping breakout star Taufik Suparno.
Meanwhile the precocious Fareez Farhan has returned from Hougang United and his experience will surely rub off on the younger ones, if his displays during the pre-season warmups are to be taken into consideration.
Last but not least, overaged captain Khairul Amri will have to lead by example to galvanise the young troops and once again prove his worth as Singapore's best forward.
Everything is almost done and dusted except for the official announcement of the appointment of Patrick Hesse as the new head coach.
This will be unchartered territory for the 58-year-old Frenchman, who now has the small issue of managing a squad where the majority are serving National Service.
It will be interesting to see how he manage to organise his manpower and get them to battle against the big boys in the S.League.
FFT'S S.LEAGUE PREDICTION: 9th
Unfortunately, experience counts on the big stage. This campaign could be a brutal experience for a fledgling squad of players.
KEEP CLICKING BELOW FOR OUR COMPREHENSIVE GARENA YOUNG LIONS PREVIEW
COACH CORNER – Patrick Hesse
Stay tuned for more to follow!
STAR MAN – Ammirul Emmran
Unfazed by his exclusion from the Singapore squad at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, the midfielder is targeting glory this season alongside his old Youth Olympic Games teammates.
For more about one of the Young Lions' key men, click here.
VIEW FROM THE FANS
Ho Zhao Xian believes the league has only gotten tougher this year, but believes Singapore's talents of tomorrow can survive.
YOUNG GUN – Joshua Bernard Pereira
The youngster, who models his game after Germany great Bastian Schweinsteiger, is raring to go and prove he has bounced back from two horrific breaks in his leg.
Click here to here about his dreams for the upcoming season.
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