The youth tournament that helped launched the careers of Fandi Ahmad, Adam Swandi, Ikshan Fandi and even European stars like Liverpool's Curtis Jones and Manchester United's Donny van de Beek is back.
After a seven-year break, the 27th edition of the Lion City Cup will be held on 1st and 3rd of September 2023. Thai powerhouses BG Pathum, Malaysia's Selangor Football Club and Indonesia's Borneo F.C. Samarinda will compete in the quadrangular which will also feature Singapore’s National Development Centre (NDC) Under-15 team. This marks the first time that BG Pathum and Borneo F.C. will participate in the tournament. The last edition in 2015 saw English club Tottenham Hotspur emerging as winners.
Ikshan Fandi famously scored a hat-trick for the Singapore Under-16s in 2015 against a Liverpool side that featured the likes of Curtis Jones and Neco Williams.
First introduced in 1977, the invitational tournament was aimed to nurture and develop young footballing talents in Singapore. It featured national youth teams across Asia, as well as developmental squads from clubs in Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania and South America. The success of the tournament caught the attention of FIFA, leading to the inception of the FIFA U-16 World Championships. Notably, the Singapore under-16 national team which then featured a young Fandi, who was the vice-captain, emerged as the first Lion City Cup champion.
The tournament will kick off on 1st September, with the third-place play-off and final held two days later. An official closed-door draw was conducted on 7th August to determine the semi-final fixtures on 1st September. Borneo F.C. will meet BG Pathum at 5pm, whilst the Singapore NDC U-15 team will play against Selangor FC at 8pm. All matches will be played at Jalan Besar Stadium. Ticketing information will be released in due course.
Opening fixtures for the Lion City Cup 2023.
Said Bernard Tan, Acting President of the Football Association of Singapore and Deputy Chairman of Unleash The Roar!: “The Lion City Cup is a crucial pillar for youth development plans under Unleash The Roar! national football project. In addition to sending our best young players overseas for training stints and competitions, it is important to also host tournaments like this in Singapore to pit ourselves against some of the best youth teams, and for local fans to get behind our young footballers.”
With the return of the Lion City Cup, the plan is to grow the event progressively over the next few years and position it as a premier regional youth tournament that will continue attracting top clubs from all over the world.
Head Coach Angel Toledano, who led the Singapore U-16 Men’s Team in last year’s AFC U17 Asian Cup Qualifiers and AFF U-16 Boys Championship, will take on the role of Head Coach for the Singapore team in this tournament.
Toledano is hopeful that the team can show their mettle and attain excellence in the tournament: “This tournament offers our players the opportunity to compete against formidable opponents and put into practice the concepts diligently honed during our training sessions. I believe that this experience will contribute greatly to the players’ development.
"Our team’s objective is to maintain competitiveness in every match while adhering to our strategic game model. Our preparations will encompass a variety of potential scenarios that might unfold during these matches. I have belief in our players and know that they will look to rise to the occasion, as seen from their commitment and desire to improve their skills in every training session.”
Story by Mas Hidayat, adapted from media release by Football Association of Singapore (www.fas.org.sg/lion-city-cup-2023)