Singapore XI ready for Premier League challenge

Beijing Guoan knocked off top of table after loss to Jiangsu

For S-League Young Player of the Year Nicolas Velez – who is one of four foreigners called up to a 23-strong squad by coach Varadaraju Sundramoorthy – the occasion will be particularly memorable.

"It's going to be a bit strange playing against Arsenal because I really like Mesut Oezil, Santi Cazorla and Alexis Sanchez," the 25-year-old Warriors striker said.

"But I will have to focus, try to help the team and repay coach Sundram for calling me up."

A life-long Gunners fan, Velez admitted that it is unlikely that he will ever get the opportunity to pull on the Arsenal jersey, but hopes the fixture against the London giants gives him exposure to European-based scouts.

I don't want to think too much about this but there's always a chance," he continued.

"In football, you never know. I just want to do my best for the team and I hope I can score or assist."

Sundramoorthy said that his decision to include four foreigners – the others being Brazilian Rodrigo Tosi (Tampines), Frenchman Sirina Camara (Home United) and Japan's Kento Fukuda (Geylang International) – was based on his intention to select the strongest possible squad.

"I have been watching them and they are among the best performers in the S-League this season. They will add skills and steel to our team," the coach said.

"Most of the national team players in my squad are young and still developing. The [tournament] will benefit Singapore football and the national team.

"If they perform well, it will give them another boost for the World Cup qualifier against Syria."

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