Meet the Singapore defensive sensation Aide is tipping for the top

2014 has moved fast for Al-Qaasimy Rahman, but so does he. Nigel Chin examines the precocious Courts Young Lions right-back who's now ready to make an impact at the AFF Suzuki Cup...

The 60 second story

FACT FILE

  • Date of birth: Jan 21, 1992
  • Place of birth: Singapore
  • Position: Full-back
  • Club: Courts Young Lions (S.League)
  • International: Singapore (4 caps, 0 goals)

Al-Qaasimy Rahman is truly one of the most exciting names in recent times to come through the Football Association of Singapore’s National Football Academy. A right-winger-cum-striker in his formative days, he now plies his trade as a combative right-back.

Having spent almost his entire career so far with the Courts Young Lions in the S.League, the defender has also captained the Singapore Under-23 side in a number of tournaments.  

His career was slightly derailed in the previous two years due to National Service. But following completion, he has taken his game to the next level, becoming a cornerstone at the back for his club.

Such prodigious form has caught the eyes of Bernd Stange in the national team, where he has established himself this year. Al-Qaasimy took part in July’s training camp in Austria, and looks set to play a major part in Singapore’s quest to defend the AFF Suzuki Cup this month.

Why you need to know him

A no-nonsense defender, Al-Qaasimy looks set to make the national team’s right-back spot his own for the next decade and beyond.

An impressive outing versus European opponents of the calibre of Juventus only confirmed the earlier promise he displayed against Torpedo Moscow and Dynamo Moscow at the Austrian retreat. His startling maturity has earned praise from coaches Aide Iskandar and Stange, both who have made him permanent fixtures in the squad.

Remarkably comfortable with both feet, Al-Qaasimy has also featured on the opposite flank with the same levels of assurance. His versatility and sense of adventure going forward are assets in an age when full-backs are called to serve almost as frustrated wingers.  

At just 22 years of age, there is no doubt Al-Qaasimy can become one of the best defenders in the region in time to come.

Credit: Weixiang Lim

Strengths

There are quite a number of elements in Al-Qaasimy’s game that are a pleasure to watch. His pace and strength – a lethal combination – on the ball, coupled with a natural instinct to surge up the right wing owing to his upbringing as a winger, make him the ideal modern-day full-back.

But labelling ‘Qimmy’ a better attacker than defender would be both lazy and cliched. His timing, stamina, awareness of his surroundings and great positional sense have seen him hone when to make those overlapping runs to perfection.  He is aggressive and strong in the tackle too, as Patrice Evra found out when Juventus played in Singapore back in August.

Weaknesses

Unfortunately, Al-Qaasimy is prone to the odd lapse of concentration, particularly in the latter stages of games. While this can be attributed to a lack of experience given his young age, mistakes stemming from it can be disastrous in his position, as he found out against Indonesia’s Under-23.

Despite a steep learning curve, that’s not to say he is a bad defender.

As Al-Qaasimy gets older and develops, there is no doubt that he will improve on the mental side of his game.

They said…

“He has the traits and great ability to perform the role of the modern full-back,” Courts Young Lions coach and Stange's right-hand man Iskandar said of the defender back in August.

“This year, I think he is much more focused because he has completed his National Service. He has showed great performances and that’s the reason why he’s been included in several squads.

“There’s still a long way to go for him, but I think he has the potential to go all the way to the national team. He should continue to progress and work hard.”

TALENTSPOTTER RATINGS

  • Shooting 5
  • Heading  7
  • Passing 6
  • Tackling 9
  • Pace 8
  • Dribbling 6
  • Creativity 5
  • Work-rate 8

Did you know?

Had things turned out differently, Al-Qaasimy might be turning out for Indonesia instead of Singapore on the national stage.

Though born and bred in the Lion City, one side of his family hails from Indonesia. There was talk of him representing the South-East Asian giants when he was younger. Thankfully for the Lions, the speculation remained just that, and ‘Qimmy’ has since earned his first international cap for Singapore.

What happens next?

At 22, Courts Young Lions will not be able to hold onto Al-Qaasimy anymore. Perhaps it is time for Al-Qaasimy to prove himself with a club that challenges for honours regularly – a move to former MSL champions LionsXII looks to be the most likely, although S.League clubs Warriors FC, Tampines Rovers and Home United won’t mind having such a talent too.

At international level, Al-Qaasimy should be looking to make the right-back spot his own in the near future, beginning with getting into Stange’s AFF Suzuki Cup squad. While Ismadi Mukhtar may have started the Lions’ recent friendlies ahead of him, investing in a far younger alternative who has the potential to be a pillar for Singapore could pay off sooner rather than later.

And, with the SEA games to come next year, Al-Qaasimy can expect to be counted on, as the Cubs bid for their first gold medal in the competition.

Main image: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo