The baby of Fandi Ahmad’s first national team squad, Jacob Mahler, is hoping to pick up a few tips from captain Hariss Harun during the international week.
Mahler, 18, was a surprise inclusion in Fandi’s 26-man squad for their international friendlies against Mauritius (Sep 7) and Fiji (Sep 11) that was released last week.
It has been a superb year for the youngster who was still turning out for the National Football Academy (NFA) U-18 side in January, before Fandi promoted him to the Young Lions team to play in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) after impressing in the Hassanal Bolkiah tournament in Brunei.
Mahler’s rapid rise to success was halted when he suffered a ligament injury and the midfielder only returned to action and made his SPL debut for the Young Lions in July.
Two months later, Mahler is now officially a member of the national team, something that came as a surprise to him and his family.
“I had some unofficial trainings with the national team but I thought it will just be a chance to improve myself as a player,” Mahler told FOX Sports Asia.
“Then it all happened when Coach Fandi called out the seven shortlisted players after one of the Young Lions training and said that I was one of five players to be selected from the squad for the national team.
“I was really shocked but it’s definitely a great achievement especially when I’m only 18 this year. I’m grateful for this opportunity because not everyone gets to be in the national team and I’m just giving it my all in training and soaking up the experience that I can,”
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The Temasek Polytechnic second-year student has been training with the Lions this week and while he admits to being in awe of some of the seniors, he is ready to watch them like a hawk and get as much pointers from the veterans as possible.
He said: “Hariss Harun was the player I admire a lot. When I went down to watch the AFF Suzuki Cup at the National Stadium two years ago, he was the captain of the Lions and was leading the team.
“I’m really looking forward to training with him and see what he does. Also, he plays overseas which is something I aspire to do one day as well so Hariss is the man for me. There’s also Safuwan (Baharudin) who I have watched a lot and he is another player I am watching closely to pick up a thing or two.”
Mahler is one of five uncapped players along with Ho Wai Loon, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Hami Syahin and Zulfadhmi Suzliman to have made the team and could be in line to make his international debut for Singapore against Mauritius or Fiji.