Sundram: If Zlatan can play at 35, so can we

The Lions coach has been calling up veterans to the national team as he believes they can still contribute to the nation’s cause… 

Singapore head coach V.Sundramoorthy shared that the door to the national team will stay open for veterans who can strengthen the team ahead of the Causeway Derby with Malaysia.

This is a huge contrast to former coach Bernd Stange’s policy, whereby he refused to call up players who were deemed too old and unable to contribute to Singapore’s cause in the long run.

Since Sundram took charge, he has handed recalls to players like Noh Rahman and Daniel Bennett, although the former chose to reject the call-up and retire from international duty instead.

Most recently, the Dazzler has even called up 35-year-old Tampines Rovers captain Mustafic Fahrudin, who last featured for the Republic at the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup.

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Bennett and Fahrudin were left out in the cold by Stange

Citing Manchester United’s 35-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an example of how age is just a number -- the striker has scored six goals in 10 games this season -- Sundram believes these veterans are still capable of producing the goods when called upon.

“It’s not about the age, it’s about the player. If Zlatan at 35 is scoring and Manchester United wants him, why can’t we call a 35-years old who can help us,” Sundram told FourFourTwo.

“If any player can do something on the pitch to contribute to the nation, for me, anytime I will ask him to come and help.”

If Zlatan at 35 is scoring and Manchester United wants him, why can’t we call a 35-years old who can help us

Nearly two years after that fateful 3-1 defeat by Malaysia that resulted in Singapore’s exit at the 2014 Suzuki Cup group stages, the Lions will take on the Tigers at the same venue again.

This time, Sundram is hoping his boys can walk away with victory instead.

“Obviously we want a win, but football is a game where anything is possible,” Sundram said.

“But definitely we will go out there to put on a good show. When you perform, results will come.

“The boys will definitely be inspired by the chance to play and beat Malaysia, but it is important for them to put the pressure away and do a good job.”

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Sundram is nearly decided on his final squad

Sundram also challenged his squad players to continue working hard, as he looks to finalise his Suzuki Cup squad in the coming weeks.

The Lions’ coach is nearly settled on his 23-man squad, but he believes that there can be some surprising call-ups too.

“Looking at Singapore’s context, how much different can (my squad be when I name it), not like I have 60 teams (to choose from). So maybe, 80 to 90% of my team is almost made up,” Sundram said.

“But the atmosphere is good, the boys are working hard and everybody is fighting for their places. They are training as if they were in a game, so it’s something surprising.”

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Photos: FAS