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 By Kelvin Leong

Anumanthan aims to follow Bennett's Singapore dream with help of Kogure

Two of the S.League's top players Daniel Bennett and Fumiya Kogure are the guiding lights for M. Anumanthan, the youngest member of the Singapore national squad on tour in Japan this week.

Anu, 22, is the youngest player in head coach V. Sundramoorthy's 25-man party who arrived in Japan on Sunday. They will play J-League club Albirex Niigata FC, plus two other friendlies against Japanese university and college teams.

Geylang International defender Daniel Bennett -- 124 appearances for Singapore -- is the oldest member of Sundram's squad, having earned an international recall after three years at the age of 38.

Anu already has six caps to his name and has been touted as a mainstay with the Lions and a possible future national team captain.

Known for his versatility as centre-back or holding midfielder further up the pitch, the former Young Lions star was pleased to see Bennett's name on the squad list. He can't wait to train with the three-time AFF Suzuki Cup winner.

Singapore midfielder M. Anumanthan vs. Myanmar
M. Anumanthan already has six caps for Singapore at the age of 22..

"I used to watch him playing for Singapore when I was a kid," Anu told ESPN FC. "It's great to finally be on the same team as him and I'm really excited to see him back with the national team.

"It'll be to my advantage during our trip to Japan to observe him up close and learn as much as I can from him.

"Even though I have six caps with Singapore, I don't see that as an achievement. Every day I'll go into training to keep learning and gain even more experience. My focus is on improving my football and nothing else.

"It is every Singapore footballer's dream to play more than 100 games for the country but at my age, that is not in my mind at all. I need to make sure my game is at the highest level and to do that, it is all about hard work."

While his focus may be with the Lions, Anu believes that his decision to join Hougang United for the 2016 S.League season, despite interest from bigger clubs, is why Sundram called him up.

Hougang United midfielder M. Anumanthan
Anu has formed an impressive midfield partnership with Raihan Rahman and Kogure.

Along with former LionsXII midfielder Raihan Rahman and 2015 S.League Player of the Year Kogure, the trio have been the backbone of Hougang's season so far.

Kogure, who missed the start of the season with a wrist injury, has wasted little time settling in with his new team. He already has three goals and six assists in just 11 games for K. Balagumaran's team.

"Fumiya is easily one of the best players in Singapore right now," Anu added. "His understanding of the game and technical ability is pure class.

"Every day in training, the rest of us watch him do new things and different skills. He is just on a different level and for me, watching his game and playing alongside him has helped my own performances.

"At Hougang, we have many quality players and every training is tough. But it is this exact reason that Hougang have laid a platform for me to step up my game and raise the expectations I have set for myself."

Singapore will finish up their tour of Japan on July 24 before heading to Phnom Penh where they will take on Cambodia in an international friendly four days later.

ESPN FC editor Kelvin Leong is a former media officer for Singapore and ex-regional editor of ESPNSTAR.com. Twitter: @KelvinLeong29.

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