Football: Striker Iqbal Hussain, 23, called up for Lions friendly against Bahrain

Striker Iqbal Hussain (centre) in a training session on June 2, 2015.
Striker Iqbal Hussain (centre) in a training session on June 2, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The national team will resume their Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup preparations next week when the Lions travel to Manama to take on Bahrain in a friendly at the National Stadium on Sept 1.

National caretaker coach V. Sundramoorthy announced a 24-man squad and the 50-year-old called up Iqbal Hussain for the first time .

The 23-year-old Hougang United striker only has one cap and that came against Papua New Guinea in a friendly two years ago.

"I am excited to be called up by coach Sundram for the match against Bahrain. It shows that my hard work in the S-League has paid off, and I am looking forward to learning not just from him but also from the seniors in the team," said Iqbal, who has scored four goals for his S-League club this year.

"It's always truly an honour to make the step up to the national team and I'm confident that I'll be able to play to the best of my ability if given the chance, and I'll also adapt well to the team since I know most of the players already.

"I'm glad my hard work has paid off and hopefully, I'll be able to prove myself because I've been doing well in my last few matches for my club and I want that to continue."

The Lions will also face Hong Kong at Mong Kok Stadium on Oct 11, just four days after the they take on Malaysia in the Causeway Challenge at the National Stadium.

Sundram, whose men are ranked 159th in the world, looks forward to facing higher-ranked opposition in Bahrain (No. 126) and Hong Kong (No. 147).

He said: "Bahrain and Hong Kong are good opponents. Hong Kong has good and physically strong players, some of whom are naturalised. Their playing style is similar to some of our opponents at the AFF Suzuki Cup, and we are looking forward to the game.

"Bahrain... will also be a good test for us. It is important for us to have high-quality matches against strong opponents. They will certainly help us to gear up for the Suzuki Cup."

The Lions have a tough AFF Cup assignment in November. They are drawn in Group A alongside co-hosts Philippines, defending champions Thailand and Indonesia. Myanmar are the other co-hosts.

National team squad for Singapore vs Bahrain:

Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny (Army United), Izwan Mahbud (Tampines Rovers)

Defenders: Baihakki Khaizan (Johor Darul Ta'zim II), Faritz Hameed, Daniel Bennett (Geylang International), Hafiz Abu Sujad, Shakir Hamzah (Tampines), Nazrul Nazari (Hougang United), Madhu Mohana (Warriors), Juma'at Jantan (Home United)

Midfielders: M. Anumanthan (Hougang), Hariss Harun (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Hafiz Nor (Warriors), Sharil Ishak (JDT II), Izzdin Shafiq, Yasir Hanapi (Tampines), Safuwan Baharudin (PDRM FA), Zulfahmi Arifin (Home), Gabriel Quak, Safirul Sulaiman (Geylang)

Forwards: Sahil Suhami (Geylang), Iqbal Hussain (Hougang), Azhar Sairudin (Home), Khairul Amri (Garena Young Lions)