The Lions enter the World Cup Qualifiers on the back of positive developments in its domestic scene
Coach Tatsuma Yoshida’s decision to hand the quartet of Darren Teh, Hazzuwan Halim, Fareez Farhan and Zharfan Rohaizad their maiden call up to the national team deserves praise.
As Singapore gears up for its first World Cup Qualifier match tomorrow, Tatsuma’s squad can be deemed as fairly complete. The Japanese has been able to get a good mix of youth and experience.
The likes of Baihakki Khaizan and Hassan Sunny represent experience while the aforementioned quartet represents youth – and with youth comes hunger.
What strikes most football fans about Tatsuma’s pick of players is how they come from a wide pool and not only from Singapore’s top clubs. For example, Hazzuwan Halim has impressed many over the course of his time at Balestier Khalsa – and has become an indispensable player for the club, yet he only just earned his first cap.
And that is the benefit of hiring a foreign coach as there can’t be any accusations of being bias. Besides Hazzuwan benefitting, Young Lions Keeper Zharfan who is only 22 will be able to learn from experienced keepers such as Hassan and Izwan Mahbud.
On the other hand, Khairul Amri’s decision to withdraw from the squad is a huge blow but Fareez at 25 represents a more viable option for the Republic especially when the future is concerned. Darren Teh’s selection can be seen as a hope that more Chinese players will get their chance under Tatsuma.
Singapore football is beginning a fresh new era under the Japanese and while the domestic league is still in the process of rebuilding itself, – a legitimate title race is ongoing for the first time in years.
Indeed after years of negativity, things are beginning to look up and there might just be a good chance that the Lions spring a surprise at the World Cup Qualifiers.