Football: Fazrul Nawaz passes Lions' centre-forward test with a goal

Fazrul Nawaz fills in admirably for the injured Khairul Amri in the chief striker's position with a goal against Cambodia.
Fazrul Nawaz fills in admirably for the injured Khairul Amri in the chief striker's position with a goal against Cambodia.ST PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG, LIM SIN THAI
Cambodia's goalie ( above ) saves Khairul Amri's penalty. The striker is later stretchered off with a hamstring injury.
Cambodia's goalie ( above ) saves Khairul Amri's penalty. The striker is later stretchered off with a hamstring injury.
Cambodia's goalie saves Khairul Amri's penalty. The striker ( above ) is later stretchered off with a hamstring injury.
Cambodia's goalie saves Khairul Amri's penalty. The striker ( above ) is later stretchered off with a hamstring injury.

Before yesterday evening's World Cup qualifier against Cambodia, Singapore striker Fazrul Nawaz had asked for a chance to play in his preferred striking role.

After all, he had been deployed out on the right flank in the previous qualifier against Afghanistan last Thursday and struggled to make any impact.

The 30-year-old's chance to lead the line came yesterday - albeit under fortuitous circumstances.

The Warriors FC forward was brought on at half-time to replace the unlucky Khairul Amri, who pulled his right hamstring while taking a penalty.

To add insult to injury, Amri missed the spot-kick which would have given the home side a comfortable 2-0 cushion.

NO APOLOGIES

Should I sit here and apologise for our performance? No, I don't think so, not when we have 10 points. We achieved exactly what we wanted.

BERND STANGE, Lions coach

The Straits Times understands that the forward could be out for two to four weeks. He could miss the Lions' crucial games against Japan (Nov 12) and Syria (Nov 17) at the National Stadium.

Amri's bad luck, however, was Fazrul's gain.

Seizing his chance, the S-League's leading local striker displayed his predatory instincts to fire home the Lions' second goal.

It is his ninth international strike.

NOT INFERIOR
 

There was not much difference between both teams. We could have got a point if my players' physical condition was better; we were very tired from the start.

LEE TAE HOON, Cambodia coach

Pouncing on a mix-up in Cambodia's back-line, the lanky forward, who has scored 14 goals in the domestic league so far, curled a beauty past Angkor Warriors goalkeeper Um Serei Rath.

Goal aside, a hungry Fazrul also showed an eagerness to find space, get on the end of passes and close down the opposition.

His audition for the coveted centre-forward role was cut short when captain Shahril Ishak was brought on with nine minutes remaining.

But Fazrul's impressive show will now give Lions coach Bernd Stange some food for thought.

The striker said: "I've been waiting for this chance for a long time, and I'm happy to score an important goal for the team.

"It came at an important time, especially after we just missed a penalty and Cambodia was coming at us.

"Hopefully, I can play in my best position again but the team must come first."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2015, with the headline 'Fazrul passes centre-forward test with a goal'. Print Edition | Subscribe