Ng out to grab SEA Games opportunity

Singapore U23 winger Stanely Ng has vowed to work his socks off to justify his selection for Aide Iskandar's SEA Games team.

Things had looked bleak for Ng, who was released from the Courts Young Lions after spending two mixed seasons at the development outfit.

S.League club Home United offered a lifeline though, and the 23-year-old has revitalised his career – earning a regular starting spot and breaking his goal duck in April against Balestier Khalsa.

His impressive displays have not gone unnoticed as he was named as part of Singapore's squad for this home edition of the SEA Games.

Speaking to FourFourTwo during a media session at the team’s base in the Day Hotels at Zhongshan Park on Friday, the 23-year-old expressed his delight on seeing his hard work pay off in the end.

“Of course (when I left Young Lions), I thought the chances of being selected for the SEA Games was very slim,” he said.

“But I never gave up and I kept going.  The most important thing on my mind then was to try and fight myself into the first team at Home United, but of course at the back of my head, I was thinking about this competition.

“So whenever I get a chance to go onto the field, I try to show people what I can do. I’m glad that I eventually got the chance to get back into the reckoning and get into the final 20.”

The call-up to represent the nation was doubly sweet for Ng, who has been juggling studies and football. He is pursuing his Diploma in Mass Communication at Kaplan University this year, a course which usually takes about a year to complete.

 “It was tough for me in the beginning,” shared Ng, who has since made the decision to defer for two trimesters to focus on the quest for gold.

“Usually at Home United, we have double training sessions a day, so I have to wake up very early every day. On a typical day, I have to report to the training ground by 7.30am, attend the video analysis sessions before going to school.

“After school, I’ll come back for another afternoon training session with the club, before concluding my day. It has been tough, but I believe this has made much more matured on and off the field this year.

“Also fortunately for me, the coaches and officials at the club supported me in every way to ensure that I don’t feel that much pressure going into the matches.”

With Singapore yet to attain the elusive goal medal in football since the inception of the Games in 1959, the pressure is mounting on this crop of players to deliver on home soil.

However having come so far in a matter of six months, Ng is unfazed of what is ahead of him – be it coping with the nerves or fighting for a starting spot on the wings with the likes of Faris Ramli and Suria Prakash.

“Definitely I’m a bit nervous right now, but when the whistle is blown, we will just go out there and play,” he declared.

“For myself, I will just focus on playing my game and show what I can do. The good thing is that most of us belong to the 1992 batch and we’ve played with each other since we were fresh 13-year-olds at the (Singapore) Sports School, so we know each other’s style of play on the field.”

“It’ll be a tough tournament for us, but I believe we’re well-prepared and we will go into each game fighting for each other like brothers and family. I’m not sure if I will get to start, but I believe whoever does need to perform the specific tasks given to them.

“At the end of the day, we’re playing for our country. With so many people watching us, we just want to make them proud.”

Photo: Shawn Lim/Football Association of Singapore