SINGAPORE — In preparation for the upcoming AFC U23 Asian Cup 2024 qualifiers in September, the Singapore Under-22 men’s national football team, led by head coach Nazri Nasir, will undergo centralised training in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Young Lions, with a squad of 26 players, are scheduled to play three friendly matches – against North Bangkok University on Aug 25, Bangkok United four days later, and the Thailand U23 team on Sep 1.
This will be Singapore U22 football team’s first outing since their disappointing performance at the 2023 SEA Games in May.
Following a thorough review after the SEA Games, it was recommended that the team prioritise two key tournaments: the SEA Games and the AFC U23 tournament, which also acts as a qualifier for the Olympic tournament.
Notably, Singapore did not send a team to the ongoing AFF U23 Championships in Thailand and has decided against participating in the Asian Games scheduled for September in Hangzhou, China.
Singapore ended the SEA Games at the bottom of Group B with only a point. They suffered 3-1 losses to Thailand and Vietnam in their first two matches, and were held to a goalless draw by Laos. The Young Lions were handed a 7-0 thrashing by Causeway rivals Malaysia in their final group match.
Putting the SEA Games behind him, head coach Nazri shared his confidence in the players he has selected, citing the passion and commitment levels during the league matches he observed.
“I have been following the progress of these boys in the Singapore Premier League and especially in the Centre of Excellence Under-21 League, and I believe that I have chosen the best available squad for the upcoming training camp as well as the AFC tournament,” shared head coach Nazri, who took over from Philippe Aw after the 2023 SEA Games.
“Being prepared is the key to doing well in anything that we try. We achieve success by planning carefully, working hard, and staying committed. The upcoming training camp will give our players a chance to face different types of opponents and use the skills they have been working hard on during training. It would also allow me to see how the team shapes up as we prepare to get into competition mode in Hanoi,” explained Nazri.
Out of the 26 players initially selected, three will be dropped. A final list of 23 players will be announced after the Singapore U22 end their centralised training in Thailand. Young Lions dominated the squad with 16 players, while Lion City Sailors are represented by five players in the team: Bill Mamadou, Kieran Aryan, Nur Adam Abdullah, Nur Muhammad Asis, and Abdul Rasaq.
Singapore has been placed in Group C for the AFC U23 Asian Cup qualifiers, and all matches will be held in Vietnam. The Young Lions will kick off their campaign against Yemen on Sep 6, followed by Guam three days later. Their final qualifying match will be against the hosts, Vietnam, on Sep 12.
The group winner will automatically qualify for the next round. The second-placed team in Group C will advance to the main tournament if they are among the top four runner-up teams in the qualifiers. The AFC U23 Asian Cup 2024 will be held in Qatar from April 15 to May 3.
At the previous qualifiers for the AFC U23 Asian Cup 2022, Singapore were held to a 2-2 draw by Timor Leste in their opening Group H match played at the Jalan Besar Stadium in 2021. The Young Lions went on to win 1-0 against the Philippines in their next game before they were defeated 3-0 by South Korea in the final match. They ended the qualifiers in second place with four points and failed to qualify for the main tournament.