Singapore team announced, 30,000-plus expected as SOS Cup returns to Singapore
Singapore is hosting the SOS Cup after an eight-year hiatus, with the prestigious annual tournament to be held at the state-of-the-art Singapore Sports Hub for the first time.
To date almost 25,000 tickets have been sold, with more than 100 buses of Selangor fans scheduled to travel across the Causeway to catch the event.
The most important thing is to play attacking football in a beautiful stadium, demonstrate some skills for the fans and go out for the win
A 21-man squad for the Singapore Selection was announced at a press conference at Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, with Home United having seven players called up, including current S.League top-scorer Stipe Plazibat.
All seven local clubs are represented in the Singapore Selection, while Yasutaka Yanagi and Kento Nagasaki got the nod from Japanese outfit and defending champions Albirex Niigata (S).
Brunei DPMM is the only S.League club with no representatives. Coach Fandi Ahmad revealed, though, there may yet be revisions to the final squad.
“I (actually) have 25 players with me and I have yet to confirm the final 20,” said the legendary Singapore forward.
“We have four players with the under-22s and they will play Vanuatu under-20s on Thursday.
“Also, players like Madhu (Mohana) and Juma’at (Jantan) are still having injuries, so I shall wait to make the final decision.
“The most important thing is to play attacking football in a beautiful stadium, demonstrate some skills for the fans and go out for the win.”
Joining Fandi on the bench will be former Singapore internationals Nazri Nasir and Noh Alam Shah, the Singapore Selection assistant coach and team manager respectively.
The appointment of Alam Shah is an intriguing one, with this being his first off-field role since retiring from professional football in 2015.
“It’s a great and new role for me to be in after one year of retiring,” said the 36-year-old. “I’m working with legends Fandi and Nazri Nasir, both of whom I respect most.
“The best thing for me is that when we call up all these players, they never said no at the first moment; they all want to play. That ignited the fire in me again. I hope they show fire on the pitch, like how I showed fire last time during my career!”
This year’s tournament is also introducing a new ‘Singapore-Selangor Schools Challenge Cup’ between the under-16 boys of the Singapore Sports School and a Selangor Combined Schools team.
That game will be played before the traditional curtain-raiser between the Singapore Veterans and Selangor Veterans, so the paying spectators will get full value back on their tickets.
“It’s with great pride that we can host this event again, not because my team won the elections,” joked tournament co-chairman Teo Hock Seng of last weekend’s Football Association of Singapore vote.
I’ve seen the list of players and I believe we have a good squad ... I can see from the players that their willingness to play is very high
“We’ve sold 24,788 tickets and we hope to sell a bit more than 30,000.
“As you can see, we’re going for volume. It’s eight dollars for an adult ticket and three dollars for a concession ticket; we don’t earn big money out of this. Selangor are sending 100 over buses; the more buses they send, our security costs go up but it does not matter.”
Teo is pleased with his team’s shake-up as they seek both to defend the title they won on penalties in Kuala Lumpur last year and to equal Selangor’s record of seven wins.
“I’ve seen the list of players and I believe we have a good squad with a quality player in each position. I can see from the players that their willingness to play is very high.
“We have two attacking players on the bench (in Fandi and Alam Shah) to make things interesting – they’ll be screaming their hearts out for the players to score goals. I believe that’s what everyone want to see.”
Fandi’s son Irfan Fandi and fellow Singapore internationals Hariss Harun, Hassan Sunny, Faris Ramli and Khairul Amri are among the other names in the squad.
Singapore Selection Squad:
Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny (Home United), Zaiful Nizam (Balestier Khalsa)
Defenders: Faritz Hameed (Geylang International), Yasutaka Yanagi (Albirex Niigata (S)), Zulfahmi Arifin (Hougang United), Irfan Fandi, Afiq Yunos (Home), Shakir Hamzah (Tampines Rovers), Ho Wai Loon (Warriors FC)
Midfielders: Yasir Hanapi (Tampines), Hariss Harun, Faris Ramli (Home), Kento Nagasaki (Albirex), Gabriel Quak (Geylang), Hami Syahin (Garena Young Lions), Raihan Rahman (Balestier Khalsa), Shahril Ishak (Warriors FC)
Forwards: Khairul Amri (Tampines), Khairul Nizam, Stipe Plazibat (Home), Taufik Suparno (Young Lions)
Tickets for this year's Sultan of Selangor Cup are available now and can be purchased by visiting www.sportshubtix.com, the SportsHub Box Office, SingPost outlets or by calling the Sports Hub hotline on +65 3158 7888.
Main image: FAS