Aide lauds Young Lions' improvement despite obstacles

Courts Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar believes his players are showing progress since returning from Austria, despite difficulties in replicating a professional training environment back home.

It was a disappointing Sunday night for the Young Lions as they failed to make a winning return to the S.League.

Shorn of the likes of key players in Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman, Anumanthan Mohan Kumar, Sahil Suhaimi and Iqbal Hussain, the national developmental side lacked the cutting edge as they were held to a goalless draw by their Malaysian counterparts, Harimau Muda B, at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Despite the less-than-desired result, Aide believes the development of his players is right on track after their three-week training tour in Austria.

“Of course, we will like to see progress,” he told FourFourTwo after the game on Sunday night.

“The boys did really well and competed against quality opponents during the trip. You can see players like Shameer (Aziq) are showing more maturity and composure, the same goes for Ammirul Emmran and Amirul Adli.

“With the exposure they got, we managed to get these youngsters to be more composed. These are the positive points which we can take from the trip.

“Hopefully with more games under the belt, they can get better.”

While the players thoroughly enjoyed their time in Austria, Aide admits it is an uphill task trying to replicate the professional training conditions back in Singapore.

“It’s always difficult, given that they’re in professional mode over there,” he said.

“They eat, sleep and play football; train twice a day. Once they come back here, it’s back to reality and they have to go back to what they have to do.

“Some of them have their NS (National Service) duties and have to work 8 to 5. I understand their frustrations and it can be depressing for these boys.

“Also unlike Harimau Muda whose boys are quite beefed up, we are unable to do gym work here because all my players can only report at 7pm. It’s difficult to do two (training) sessions a day.”

However the former national skipper is adamant that he can find the right formula to make these boys tick.

“At the end of the day, there’s only so much we can push them,” he said.

“If we push them to their limits, they might break down. We have to be careful because they’re young players.

“For me, I always try to give them professional advice; to eat and rest well.

“We’re not complaining, we know the challenges and we’ll work around it.

“Hopefully when it gets closer to the SEA Games, we can have more time with them and use the short period to maximize what we can do for the squad.”

Image Credit: Alson Ong/Football Association of Singapore