Singapore finalises 22-man Suzuki Cup squad

Defenders Madhu Mohana and Faritz Hameed are the unlucky duo dropped from Bernd Stange's AFF Suzuki Cup squad ahead of Sunday's opener.

The Lions will take on Thailand in their first Group B game at the National Stadium, eager to defend the ASEAN crown that they won two years ago.

Coach Stange had trimmed his squad down to 24 players ahead of friendly games against Laos and Cambodia, with Madhu and Faritz the final two omissions this week.

Both players missed months of action due to injuries, and only recently returned to full training.

It was a factor that Stange took into consideration before delivering the heart-breaking news to the pair on Tuesday—the day after the Lions' final warm-up game against Cambodia.

"I'm disappointed, but I can understand why the coach chose to drop me," Faritz told FourFourTwo on Thursday evening.

"Al-Qaasimy (Rahman) and Ismadi (Mukhtar) have been playing the whole season for their respective clubs while I missed out on five months of action.

"It's a fair decision; if I was in the coach's position, I'd drop myself too."

LionsXII winger Gabriel Quak is in Singapore's final squad

Meanwhile, Madhu also lamented getting injured at the 'worst possible time of the season' when he spoke to FFT.

After sustaining a grade two tear on his right hamstring in the LionsXII's final Malaysia Cup group game against Felda United which effectively ruled him out for two months, the 23-year-old will now miss his second major tournament in a row.

"I'm disappointed for sure," he said.

"I think I was doing alright throughout the season and I played in quite a lot of matches.

"I thought I had a good chance to be included in the squad until the injury which also caused me to miss the Asian Games."

Looking to the future

Both players will be feeling particularly unlucky after also missing out on the 2012 triumph due to National Service commitments, but Madhu is already setting his sights on making his debut at the next edition.

"I'll be 25 by the time the next tournament comes," he said.

"Hopefully, I'll have better luck and get selected when the time comes."

Meanwhile, Faritz is focussing on the more immediate future, after completing his comeback from a knee cartilage injury in the 2-0 defeat against Bahrain earlier this month.

"Right now my main goal is to get playing time for the LionsXII and prove to people that I'm still capable," he said.

"Bernd has told me that I'm still his first-choice if I manage to get my fitness back and that's something encouraging to hear."

Singapore's AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 Squad

Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny (Warriors FC), Izwan Mahbud (LionsXII)

Defenders: Ismadi Mukhtar (Tampines Rovers), Al-Qaasimy Rahman (Courts Young Lions), Baihakki Khaizan (JDT II), Safuwan Baharudin (LionsXII), Afiq Yunos (LionsXII), Amirul Adli (Courts Young Lions), Shakir Hamzah (LionsXII), Shaiful Esah (Tampines Rovers)

Midfielders: Gabriel Quak (LionsXII), Zulfahmi Arifin (LionsXII), Shahdan Sulaiman (Tampines Rovers), Hariss Harun (JDT), Hafiz Sujad (LionsXII), Shahril Ishak (JDT II), Faris Ramli (LionsXII)

Forwards: Shahfiq Ghani (LionsXII), Khairul Amri (LionsXII), Khairul Nizam (LionsXII), Sahil Suhaimi (Courts Young Lions), Fazrul Nawaz (Home United)

Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo