When we look at players over the age of 23 (born before 01/01/1998) with zero caps, we can potentially form a 19-man squad. I once again re-emphasize this is not including a host of youngsters that have featured prominently in the league. These hot prospects are still eligible for the national under-23 team and I want to focus on players who no longer have that opportunity to play at the national youth team level.
Who makes the bench?
Zainol Gulam is truly an underrated keeper, and yes, he has conceded a number of goals this season, but if you have never watched Geylang’s custodian play, you will never realize how many insane shots he’s kept out. If he had a stronger back line in front of him, he would surely have had better prospects of keeping a clean sheet this season. Nevertheless, his instincts and reflexes are incredible. Some might just say even spidey-like.
Aqhari Abdullah’s exclusion from national team squads has regularly baffled me. Perhaps a lack of game time with the Sailors the past season and a half explains why he was not selected this time around, but how he has not been selected before is bewildering. Full of energy down the right flank, Aqhari is a true asset in any team, and hopefully Sailors play him more in the second half of the season.
Sharin Saberin has bolstered the Tanjong Pagar United backline since joining the Jaguars and has functioned well in a backline alongside Faritz Hameed and Delwinder Singh. Never afraid of making a challenge and always willing to give it his all, he is an amazing defender. He also has a knack of making important contributions offensively as well and has registered three assists this season. Not too shabby for a centre-back, not too shabby at all.
Naqiuddin Eunos’s ability to comfortably play anywhere along the left wing is a real asset for Lion City Sailors, who have used him as a left-back during Nur Adam’s absence. His darting runs and skillfull dribbling allow him to get into good positions up front to make meaningful contributions to his teammates. Only 24 years old, an interesting future awaits him if he refines up his game.
Faiz Salleh isn’t given due recognition for his contributions to a pretty well balanced Hougang United squad, partly because of the depth that they have in a number of positions. Yet, he delivers when it matters. It certainly helps that Faiz can easily play either as a right back or left back, and it’s his versatility that has aided the Cheetahs when injuries pile up. Also, he can finish if he finds himself in the penalty box, just take a look at his goal against Home United in 2018.
A member of the beloved national under-15 team that clinched the bronze medal at the 2010 Youth Olympics, Ammirul Emmran has developed into a key player for the Jaguars. While he hasn’t featured as much as he did last season, Ammirul still poses a threat from the middle of the park with his passing and defensive acumen.
Muhaimin Suhaimi is truly an unsung hero who has been coming to the Cheetahs’ aid the past few seasons. He might not start every game, but when called upon, he does his best. Part of the NFA under-16 team that finished runners-up in the 2011 Lion City Cup and a TNP Sports Star recipient, he has immense untapped potential.
Gareth Low certainly bloomed during his tenure with Albirex Niigata (S) last season and has been entrusted with significant responsibility in a largely youthful Balestier Khalsa side. The taskmaster is able to fulfill multiple roles whether be it as a left-winger, a central midfielder or a left-back and plays it well. Only 24 years old, the future is bright for Gareth!
And that wraps up our #NOCAP team. Any surprises or did I miss anyone out? Well if I did, maybe they might just appear in my next line up – Stay tuned for that.
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