Young Lions name Ikhsan Fandi in squad for 2017 S.League season
With a squad totally made up of players under the age of 22, the Garena Young Lions will be facing a baptism of fire in the 2017 S.League season.
In preparation for August's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur, the local development outfit made the decision to release over-age players like Khairul Amri, Firdaus Kasman and Christopher van Huizen, who featured in the 2016 campaign where they finished bottom with just nine points from a possible 72.
Among the other notable departures are key men like Adam Swandi and Fareez Farhan, who joined Home United and Hougang United respectively, while last season's head coach Patrick Hesse resigned, despite previously signing a two-year deal.
As such, the Young Lions class of 2017 will sport a different outlook from last season. Among the new arrivals are defender Shahrin Saberin, midfielder Hafiz Sulaiman and goalkeeper Hairul Syrihan Mardan, but all eyes will be on the inclusion of Ikhsan Fandi -- the second eldest son of Singapore's favourite footballing son Fandi Ahmad.
Ikhsan, the youngest member of the squad at just 17 years old, caught the eye in the 2015 Lion City Cup where he scored a perfect hat trick in 10 minutes to help the national Under 15 side draw 3-3 against their Liverpool counterparts.
Local football fans have their eyes peeled on how he fares in his first professional season.
Former Singapore international V. Selvaraj has taken over the coaching reins. He is adamant that his young squad can improve on last season's performances.
"Last year was a really tough season, but I'm sure these young players have benefited from the exposure to professional football," said the 48-year-old.
"Results may not have gone our way, but if you've watched our players, they never gave up and for that I have to give my respect to my former coach Patrick.
"We, including myself and the coaching staff, have learnt from that experience and will be looking to improve ourselves as we kick off the new season.
"With one season of experience under our belt, they will be better equipped to face the challenges ahead against the vastly-experienced teams in the league, and I've full faith in this group of talented boys."
Garena Young Lions 2017 Squad
Goalkeepers: Zharfan Rohaizad, Hairul Syirhan Mardan, Fashah Iskandar, Adib Hakim
Defenders: Rusyaidi Salime, Ehvin Sasidharan, Amirul Adli, Taufiq Muqminin, Shahrin Saberin, R Aaravin, Illyas Lee, Dhukhilan Jeevamani, Faizal Roslan, Syahrul Sazali, Yeo Hai Ngee
Midfielders: Muhaimin Suhaimi, Shameer Aziq, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Amirul Hakim, Hami Syahin, Armin Maier, Muhelmy Suhaimi, Ammirul Emmran, Joshua Bernard Pereira, Hafiz Sulaiman, Haiqal Pashia Anugrah
Forwards: Jordan Chan, Ryan Syaffiq, Taufiq Suparno, Shafeeq Faruk, Ikshan Fandi