By Gabriel Tan
Young Lions, the Singapore national youth squad that have been plying their trade in the S.League since 2003, officially unveiled their roster for the coming season on Monday.
And in a departure from the traditional under-23 age limit, the squad will mainly be made up of players aged 21 and under, with Fazli Ayob, Afiq Yunos and Emmeric Ong the only overage members.
Ex-Singapore international Aide Iskandar was also presented as Young Lions coach for the first time since his appointment was announced two weeks ago and he has already revealed how their focus this year will be on developing the country's brightest youngsters.
"I believe it's a good platform for these boys," he told FOX Sports after last week's 2-0 friendly defeat to Balestier Khalsa. "Some have been tested in the past but a majority have not been regular starters for Young Lions.
"It will be an interesting year for them as they will get to play a lot of games and it's good that this squad will be without any foreigners.
"As you can see, more than 90% of the boys are below the age of 21 - it's good to see this batch given a chance and a platform to showcase their talents and develop."
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin spoke at Monday's unveiling and explained how a main focus for the Young Lions would be to prepare the players for the 2013 and 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
"Young Lions have produced fine talents over the past few years like Shahril Ishak, Khairul Amri, Izwan Mahbud and, of course, Hariss Harun, who have risen through the ranks with their determination and unwavering spirit," he said.
"We have a younger Courts Young Lions squad this year, as compared to previous seasons. In my view, this represents an invaluable opportunity for our younger players to step up and boost their chances of being called up to the SEA Games squad later this year.
"Apart from the SEA Games, I also hope that more players from the Courts Young Lions will be called up to the [Singapore] national team soon."
Courts Asia Limited CEO Terry O'Connor was also present at the press conference and was proud to announce that Courts had decided to continue as the team's prinicipal sponsor for the third year running.
2013 Courts Young Lions squad
Goalkeepers: Rudy Khairullah, Abdul Qadir Mohd Yusoff, Syazwan Buhari, Zulfairuuz Rudy
Defenders: Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Emmeric Ong, Afiq Yunos, Nurullah Hussein, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Syafiq Iderus, Firman Hanif, Taleji Salamat
Midfielders: Anumanthan Mohan Kumar, Shamil Sharif, Samuel Benjamin, Fazli Ayob, Nur Na'iim Ishak, Faiz Salleh, Sufianto Salleh, Farhan Rahmat, Nur Ridho Ahmad Jafri
Forwards: Sahil Suhaimi, Stanely Ng, Ignatius Ang, Nicolas Marc Cher, Fareez Farhan