V. Sundramoorthy to 'track' Singapore internationals abroad in 2018
Singapore head coach V. Sundramoorthy is set to rack up plenty of air miles in the year ahead as he monitors the Lions' overseas talent before the AFF Suzuki Cup kicks off in November.
The close season has seen an exodus of much of Singapore's finest talent as they fill the new ASEAN quota slots in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) and the Thai League.
On Friday, winger Faris Ramli is expected to become the latest Singaporean star to quit the S.League to sign with PKNS in the MSL.
Faris joins Hariss Harun (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Hafiz Sujad (JDT II), Shahdan Sulaiman (Melaka United), Madhu Mohana (Negeri Sembilan), Shahfiq Ghani (UKM FC) and Safuwan Baharudin (Pahang) in Malaysia.
To the north, Hassan Sunny (Army United), Zulfahmi Arifin (Chonburi) and Izwan Mahbud (Nongbua Pitchaya) will be playing their football in Thailand this year.
However, while Sundramoorthy may pay several visits to Malaysia and Thailand, he will also have to keep an eye on Ridhuan Muhammad at Borneo FC in Indonesia and naturalised centre-back Precious Emuruejaye, who plays for Churchill Brothers in India's I-League.
And the longest trip may be to Saudi Arabia, where Baihakki Khaizan could sign for Jeddah Club, although he has also been linked to Kuala Lumpur in the MSL.
While the S.League will undoubtedly suffer as a result of the loss of many of its biggest stars, the Singapore boss sees positives in having so many players based overseas.
"It is a good issue to have and we will track these players," Sundramoorthy told The Straits Times. Most of them are in neighbouring countries and we have the manpower to do so.
"Whether it is Malaysia or Thailand, I will personally attend some of their matches as it is important to be at the stadium to watch them.
"I think even for those who are playing in the second division, they will find themselves in a very competitive league with at least four foreigners.
"As imports themselves, I believe they will work hard to stand out and that will only be good for the national team."
Singapore won just one point and scored just one goal in their 2016 AFF Cup campaign, finishing bottom of their group behind Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Sundramoorthy will hope that the experience of playing abroad lifts his players to better levels of performance and a much improved showing at this year's competition.
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