By Les Tan
Khairul Nizam at 16 years of age in 2007. He will play for the Young Lions in the S.League this year. (Photo © Les Tan/Red Sports)
Khairul Nizam, perhaps hailed somewhat prematurely as the next Fandi Ahmad, scored a goal for the Young Lions against the full national squad at the National Stadium last night.
Khairul, 17, is one of the new faces drafted into the Young Lions squad this year, according to the Straits Times (Monday, January 5, 2009).
Red Sports first came upon Khairul Nizam in 2007 (see related story below) when he turned out for Serangoon Secondary School in the B Division Football Championship and later that year, he was selected to represent an adidas squad from Singapore that played in a regional football tournament in Hong Kong.
In 2008, he was highlighted by the Straits Times and hailed as the new Fandi Ahmad, although previous players like Khairul Amri, Indra Sahdan and Rafi Ali, similarly heralded, have flattered to deceive.
The lack of available and willing local-born talent has seen an infusion of foreign-talent and it was China-born Singaporean Shi Jiayi who proved the difference last night with two goals to ensure that the senior squad finished the game 3-2 winners and with their collective reputations intact.
The Young Lions coaching staff have retained only 10 players from last year’s squad and their big assignment is this year’s U-23 football tournament at the Laos SEA Games in December 09.
The last SEA Games U-23 football squad managed to win a bronze in Korat in 2007, the first football medal since the
silver bronze won in 1995.
Young Lions Coach Terry Pathmanathan told Straits Times: “Most of this year’s new players were recruited from the Prime League. It will be a test of their confidence in the S-League. They are the best young players in the country and we’ll see if they can live up to expectations.”
Perhaps it is more accurate to describe the Young Lions as the best young players available in the country. There is some way yet to go before all the best young Singaporean talent see it worth their while to play for Singapore rather than just pursuing post-secondary studies.
Khairul Nizam of Serangoon wins golden boot