LionsXII player movements settled ahead of SEA Games

The head coaches of LionsXII, national senior and Under-23 squads have reached an unanimous agreement on four LionsXII players ahead of the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games football tournament on home soil in June.

The quartet of Faris Ramli, Sahil Suhaimi, Christopher van Huizen and Zakir Samsudin are among the non-Courts Young Lions players who will link up with the training team for a residential centralised training camp at the Singapore Sports School from 1 to 9 May.

The LionsXII players will check out of camp on 7 May to prepare for their team’s Malaysia FA Cup semi-final first leg against Terengganu FA. That match will be held at Jalan Besar Stadium on 9 May.

Should Fandi Ahmad’s men be successful in reaching the FA Cup final against either Pahang FA or Kelantan FA, they will be released again to link up in the hunt for silverware at the end of the month.

Following the cup tie, they will rejoin the squad as they head to Japan for a week-long training tour from 10 to 17 May where they are likely to play several friendly matches against league sides in the final tune-up.

National Under-23 head coach Aide Iskandar was pleased that a consensus has been reached to ensure his side are primed for battle ahead of the start of their campaign against the Philippines on 1 June.

“(National head coach) Bernd Stange, (LionsXII head coach) Fandi Ahmad and I had an in-depth discussion about our preparations,” he said in a press release.

“All of us agree that it will be a good psychological boost for the four if they can feature in the FA Cup semis and possibly the final.”

Faris was delighted by the arrangements made for him and his club teammates to ensure they are in good shape ahead of the big kickoff in June.

“We were excited when we were told of this,” said the LionsXII winger.

“As players, we always give our best to whichever team we represent and had been prepared to miss the semis for the national cause.

“Now that we can feature in one leg, we will do our best to help LionsXII secure a good result before turning our attention to the SEA Games again.”

Fandi also expressed his contentment with FAS for ensuring optimal preparation for the biennial Games football tournament without compromising on his team’s pursuit for success.

“We know how important team spirit is,” said the three-time Games silver medallist.

“As former players, Aide and I know what it feels like to be part of good Cup runs, and what it means to the players.

“They will get some game time and the chance to soak in the big-match atmosphere, which will only be invaluable and give them a good boost for the Games.”

Aide allayed concerns of potential injuries sustained by the non-Young Lions players when they feature for their respective clubs in competitive matches.

“Injuries can happen anywhere and at any time,” said the former national defender.

“Players get injured at training, during games and even outside.”

FourFourTwo understands the Balestier Khalsa duo of Nurullah Hussein and Ho Wai Loon will only link up with the rest after the Singapore Cup champions return from their S.League fixture against Brunei DPMM FC at Bandar Seri Begawan on 2 May.

Meanwhile, negotiations are continuing between FAS and the affected S.League clubs to ensure a similar level of effective preparation for their players as the LionsXII counterparts, in the cases of the Balestier duo, Home United winger Stanely Ng and Tampines Rovers striker Taufiq Suparno.

The 30-man provisional squad will be reduced to the final 20 upon the return from Japan as Aide Iskandar’s men make the final preperations for their quest for glory at the Games in June.