|By Khalis Rifhan
Both the National Football Academy (NFA) Under-16 and Under-15 teams have set their foot on foreign soil as they prepare for the upcoming 25th Canon Lion City Cup, which kicks off on June 8.
Nazri Nasir’s U15 boys have made the short journey up north to Malaysia to participate in the FAM-Frenz U15 ASEAN Champions Trophy, while Robin Chitrakar’s U16 squad is away in Japan for a week-long training tour, where they will play a series of friendly matches against youth teams there.
The U15s have been drawn in Group A alongside Phnom Penh Crown (Cambodia), Vietnam PVF Football Academy, Chonburi FC (Thailand), Timor Leste U15 and Frenz United ‘A’ (Malaysia).
Their opening match will be against Frenz United on May 26 at the Janda Baik Stadium in Pahang before they return to Singapore to face Chonburi at the Jalan Besar Stadium on June 1.
After the Lion City Cup, the NFA U15 will be travelling to Ho Chi Minh to face Vietnam Football Academy at the Thanh Long Sport Center on June 18, before hosting the Timorese at home on June 22.
The Frenz Champions Trophy will be played on a home-away basis with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semi-final scheduled for August 3 and 17, with the two-legged final taking place on August 24 and September 1.
Nazri sees the two matches as a test before finalising his squad for the Lion City Cup.
“Playing against Frenz United and Chonburi will be a good build-up to the tournament,” said the former Singapore international.
“It is an opportunity to evaluate the boys one last time before I confirm my 25-man squad.”
When asked about his team’s chances for theLion City Cup, Nazri believes they are good enough to make the semi-finals.
“We have a slight advantage this time," he claimed.
"We know what to expect from the foreign teams [and] our boys are more confident because they are used to the raucous atmosphere in Jalan Besar.
“I have set a target for the team, we have to reach the semi-finals this year."
The NFA U15s are in Group B and they begin their campaign with a match against Corinthians on June 8 before taking on Dutch giants PSV on June 10.
Meanwhile, the NFA U16s are in Group A and will take on Arsenal on the opening day and end the group stage with a match against Eintracht Frankfurt on June 12.