Asean Para Games: Khairul's left feels just right

Khairul Anwar Kasmani (left) scoring from a free kick to complete his hat-trick against Myanmar yesterday. The Singapore captain now has four goals to his credit in this Asean Para Games.
Khairul Anwar Kasmani (above) scoring from a free kick to complete his hat-trick against Myanmar yesterday. The Singapore captain now has four goals to his credit in this Asean Para Games.ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG
Khairul Anwar Kasmani (left) scoring from a free kick to complete his hat-trick against Myanmar yesterday. The Singapore captain now has four goals to his credit in this Asean Para Games.
Khairul Anwar Kasmani (above) scoring from a free kick to complete his hat-trick against Myanmar yesterday. The Singapore captain now has four goals to his credit in this Asean Para Games.ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG

Captain bags a hat-trick from pile-drivers but they are not enough as Singapore lose 3-5

He bent a free kick in from 25 metres. He hammered home another from long distance. And he lobbed the goalkeeper from the half-way line. Sounds familiar?

Although Khairul Anwar Kasmani was unable to prevent Singapore's cerebral palsy (CP) football team from going down 3-5 to Myanmar in the Asean Para Games (APG) round-robin match yesterday, the player's hat-trick of pile-drivers saw him do his best David Beckham impression.

Incidentally, the 29-year-old's role model is the former England captain. And, although Myanmar's win underlined their status as the defending champions, it was Khairul who stole the show as the 2,000 spectators at the National Stadium urged him to shoot each time the left-footer had the ball.

 

Khairul said: "It's my forte, not only long shots, but crosses too.

"What I have practised in training, on the pitch, it has shown."

MASTERLY STRIKES

It's my forte, not only long shots, but crosses too. What I have practised in training, on the pitch, it has shown.

KHAIRUL ANWAR KASMANI, S'pore captain

The pile-drivers took his tally for this APG to four goals. He scored a last-gasp winner in a 1-0 win over Indonesia on Thursday.

Singapore CP football team's coach Mohamed Zainudeen praised his player, saying: "Khairul is a special and talented player. He's got good shots, very good technique. He can deliver 30-40m passes. We worked a lot on it (long balls), the set-pieces."

Barely two minutes elapsed at Kallang when Myanmar took the lead, but Khairul equalised from the half-way line almost immediately, prompting comparisons with Beckham's famous goal against Wimbledon in 1996.

But Myanmar's attacking style proved too strong as they raced to a 5-1 lead, before Singapore's deadly left-footer scored twice in the final seven minutes.

Khairul's second gem came in the 53rd minute when he blasted the ball into the net from 30 metres out, beating goalkeeper Than Htut Win's outstretched hands.

And the skipper capped his splendid individual display by curling home a 25m free kick in stoppage time, an act that saw his name trend on Twitter.

However, the man at the centre of the attention deflected all the praise lavished on him after the game, saying simply: "It's entertaining football for everyone."

The hat-trick was splendid. But it was not enough to avenge Singapore's 2-0 defeat by the same opponents in last year's APG final.

Still, the local fans celebrated as if the Republic had prevailed, mainly thanks to the treat they received from the captain's trusty left foot.

Myanmar's head coach Tin Muang Latt observed that the Singapore team have improved from their previous meeting last year.

He said: "We know Singapore have good players, especially the captain (Khairul). He is very good."

Said Khairul: "Results aside, we were fantastic. I take shots from the outside, it's entertaining football for everyone."

Khairul and Co will face an uphill task to recover and be fit for their must-win encounter against Thailand today.

Like Myanmar, Thailand are undefeated in two matches.

Singapore have one victory and a loss. The top two seven-a-side teams will advance to the gold-medal match.

Pointing to Khairul's right knee which was wrapped with ice, Zainudeen said: "We've got to get up and go. It's not the end."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 06, 2015, with the headline 'KHAIRUL'S LEFT FEELS JUST RIGHT'. Print Edition | Subscribe