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New coach Fandi Ahmad asserted at the pre-season press conference that the team has the potential to succeed and his job was also about creating players for the national side

LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad has stated his belief that the Malaysian Super League side is key to developing players for the future.

With experienced senior players like Hariss Harun, Baihakki Khaizan and Shahril Ishak all having left the team, Fandi will have to lead a young and relatively inexperienced side into battle this season.

Despite this, around half of them have been capped at senior international level, with Lions coach Bernd Stange looking to blood more young talent into the national team.

Speaking at the pre-season press conference last week at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the newly-appointed Fandi emphasised that his role was not all about winning.

"Generally, most of these players are 22.5 years (on average) and I know some of them have played 20, 30 matches for the national team - which is very, very good experience," he pointed out.

"My job also is not only about winning. I want to create new players for the national team for coach Bernd, especially players like [Khairul] Nizam, Gabriel [Quak], Hafiz [Sujad] and Faris [Ramli] to the next level, because I’ve been there, done that and I hope with my experience I can guide them.

"With my coaching staff, I hope we can guide them to a higher level. Hopefully we can qualify for the Asian Cup or even World Cup [in future], because this is where we are building this team [towards]. That’s what LionsXII are for here."

Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin echoed the 51-year-old's sentiments and also hailed the LionsXII as a "unifying symbol" for Singaporeans.

"Youth and development remains a key element for LionsXII... a number of whom both won bronze at the 2013 SEA Games and are also full internationals," he added.

The defending league champions got off to a losing start in their 2014 campaign after a 1-0 loss to Pahang FA on Friday, which underlined their tough task this season.

Despite their young age, however, Fandi is adamant they have what it takes to succeed.

"I still believe that this team can have the potential to succeed, with the likes of [Khairul] Amri, Sufian [Anuar] and our captain Isa [Halim],' he said, referring to the experience of his senior players.

"I believe they can lead this team. And we need your support, everyone of us in this room to support us."

The LionsXII next take on DRB-Hicom FC in the Malaysia FA Cup tonight at Bishan Stadium at 7.45p.m.

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