Singapore Under-23s boss Aide Iskandar tendered his resignation after his team failed to progress to the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games semi-finals.
The 40-year-old left his post after his Young Lions were defeated 1-0 by their Indonesian counterparts in the final Group A match, taking responsibility for the hosts’ premature group stage exit.
A visibly and emotionally-strained Aide put on a brave front as he explained his choice, and explained the grounds on which he dropped top scorer Faris Ramli and Irfan Fandi for Thursday’s decisive match at Jalan Besar Stadium.
“I have tried to build a team for this Games, even though there were a lot of challenges I have faced as a coach,” said the teary-eyed Aide to reporters after the match.
“I am thankful for all the support I had received and the overseas trips we went on, even though there were challenges getting the players to train at times.
“Irfan and Faris were not fully fit [on Thursday],” Aide continued. “Irfan was recovering from flu while Faris had some tightness on his hamstring and was not able to complete the full 90 minutes.”
The introduction of the duo after the break had a limited effect as Singapore were still unable to avoid succumbing in front of a capacity-crowd.
“We did not have the best of results in the final phase of training, and unfortunately we had two key players, Shahfiq Ghani and Amirul Adli, injured just before the start of the tournament.”
The former national captain also expressed his appreciation to the squad even though they stumbled out of medal contention with only two wins in four matches.
“I am very proud of my boys, they showed a lot of unity and solidarity,” he added.
“They gave their best and pushed to get the equaliser even though we were one man down [after Ho Wai Loon’s second yellow midway in the second half].”
Aide then acknowledged Singaporean fans for turning up in force at Jalan Besar for all their matches throughout the campaign, including those that kicked off before the official opening of the Games last Friday.
“I also want to thank the fans who have been fantastic rallying the boys, cheering us on even when some of them had doubts,” he said.
Before he left, Aide issued a final word to his players: “Even though I have resigned, I told the players the journey still has to go on for them because they are young and can only get better.
“I told them that failures and defeats like these can only make them stronger, so with this, I want to thank them once again.”
The former playing icon has not just quit his U23 role, but also left the Courts Young Lions hot seat, a post he held since January 2013, with immediate effect.
Image credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwocomments