While PN Sivaji’s S.League team are still waiting for their first piece of silverware since 2005, the youngsters have done well this season, winning the Prime League by a convincing margin.
Part of the credit goes to senior players like Peres de Oliveira and S.Subramani, who have imparted some of their experiences to the Prime League players whenever they have a chance to train with the seniors.
His new role of mentor, according to the 35-year-old Brazilian, is an important one in aiding the younger generation’s development process.
“In this time, players like Mani and myself have been guiding the younger players in our team,” he explained.
“We’ve got quite a few youth players, so seniors like us often do our best to encourage them to play. We want to give them the confidence so that they can play their game.
“Most of the younger players have played in the S.League already, even the League Cup and the Singapore Cup. That has made them feel more comfortable about their abilities.”
Oliveira has certainly had an excellent group of youngsters to work with, as players like Firdaus Idros, Siddiq Durimi and Azhar Sairudin all enjoyed sizeable amounts of game time this term.
But the pick of the bunch, according to the midfield maestro, is 21-year-old Shahdan Sulaiman, who currently plays for the Protectors while doing his National Service.
The two had previously been teammates at Tampines, where Shahdan had already been tipped for great things by former Malaysia Cup hero Rafi Ali.
It was a verdict Oliveira was clearly happy to agree with, pointing to the young midfielder’s visionary thinking as the one defining feature he was most excited with.
“The best has got to be Shahdan,” he said as he assessed young trainees at Home.
“There are many other good players at this club, but to me, he is the one that stands out. I like watching him play, because he has that extra quality.
“He has a very good football brain. Once you pass the ball to him, you can see he has already thought about who he’s going to pass to next.
“That is something most other players don’t have, and that makes him special. I think he should be developed more, and he will be in the national team one day.”
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