|By Kenneth Tan
The Singapore Under-21 Squad will be travelling up to Pleiku, Vietnam to compete in the Vietnaam Newspaper Cup 2012 scheduled to be played from October 13 to October 21.
The Vietnam Newspaper Cup is an annual U21 football competition held by the Vietnam Football Federation to prepare youth players for U23 level and the senior side.
The tournament is now into its sixth year, with the Viets piping the Iranians to first place last year.
Singapore's best showing was in the inaugural edition in 2007, where they finished in third place. Two successive fourth-place finishes were achieved in 2008 and 2009, and they have bowed out in the group stages for the past two years.
This year's squad consists of 20 players with an average age of 19.1 years and will be led by former Singapore international Robin Chitrakar.
Nine of them comes from his Courts Young Lions side while eight comes from the NFA Under-18 feeder team.
Hougang midfielder Farhan Rahmat and Geylang United duo Basil Teo and Amy Recha are the only representatives from the other S.League clubs.
It was understood that the trio of Nurullah Hussein, Samuel Benjamin and Ahmad Suhaimi was not released by Gombak United.
“Some clubs don’t want to release players, some [are] tied down by National Service - they [have] applied for leave, but are on standby. It's unfortunate," lamented Chitrakar when he spoke to Goal.com Singapore on Wednesday.
"We're definitely looking at development; we have a relatively young squad with about seven to eight U18 boys - we should be the youngest in the tournament."
"We're going to play Vietnam which is not [going to be] easy, but the boys will try their best," he commented.
His Cubs are in Group A together with Thailand U21 and the Vietnam Youth Newspaper Team, while Group B comprises Malaysia U21, Laos U21 and Sydney FC from Australia.They will play the Viets this Saturday evening, before taking on the Thais on Monday.
The semi-finals will be played on the 19th, and the final is scheduled for the 21st.
Saturday, October 13: Vietnam U21 vs Singapore U21, 6pm (local timing)
Monday, October 15: Singapore U21 vs Thailand U21, 3.30pm.
Singapore Under-21 Squad
Goalkeepers: Zulfairuuz Rudy (NFA U18), Syazwan Bin Buhari (Courts Young Lions)
Defenders: Farhan Bin Rahmat (Hougang United), Sufianto Salleh (CYL), Syafiq Bin Iderus, Faris Azienuddin, Shannon Stephen, Tajeli Salamat (all NFA U18)
Midfielders: Anumanthan Kumar, Rihdo Jefri (both NFA U18), Faris Ramli, Nazrul Nazari, Shamil Sharif, Faiz Salleh, Zulfahmi Arifin (all CYL), Basil Teo (Geylang United)
Forwards: Amy Recha Pristifana (Geylang United), Syafiq Zainal, Fareez Farhan (both CYL), Fuad Ramli (NFA U18)