Amri the hero as Shahril disappoints

Shahril Ishak and Khairul Amri are two of the most experienced players in the Singapore line-up.

But they turned in contrasting performances as the Lions eked out a narrow 1-0 victory over Afghanistan in their World Cup Group E qualifier at the National Stadium last night.

Amri, who won his 102nd international cap, cemented his position as the team's chief striker when he scored the only goal of the game.

It was the prolific 30-year-old hitman's 15th goal in 29 matches since national coach Bernd Stange took charge in May 2013.

He said: "I'm relieved and thankful after scoring, but (my) performance can be better."

But Amri's team-mate Shahril enjoyed no such luck.

The Lions captain, who earned his 125th international cap last night, is known as a clinical finisher.

But the 31-year-old looked a shadow of his former self, his goal-scoring touch and precisely-timed runs into the box appearing to have deserted him.

In the 38th minute, perhaps the most promising moment in the first half for the hosts, the skipper fumbled when, in his haste, he failed to latch on to Amri's through ball to him, which would have sent him clear.

The wasted opportunity drew a collective sigh from the crowd.

The attacking midfielder, who was the LionsXII's top scorer in 2012 and 2013 with 10 and eight goals respectively, has scored just thrice in the past 29 internationals since Stange came on board.

It has been almost a year since Shahril last scored for Singapore, in a 4-2 victory over Cambodia in a friendly match last November.

His lacklustre performance prompted the coach to drop him at the interval.

Explaining his decision later, Stange said: "He plays in the second division in Malaysia (for Johor Darul Takzim II). The speed of the game is very high, it did not work for him. It was extremely difficult for him, he gave everything as captain and I appreciate it."

But it was Amri's night. Perhaps it was fitting that it ended with the striker being honoured in front of the home crowd for earning a milestone 100th cap earlier this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2015, with the headline 'Amri the hero as Shahril disappoints'. Print Edition | Subscribe