Football: Lion-heart Shahril eager to keep on shining

Forward Shahril Ishak is part of the 20-man Singapore Selection squad led by Fandi Ahmad and was singled out by Selangor's coach E. Elavarasan as a threat.
Forward Shahril Ishak is part of the 20-man Singapore Selection squad led by Fandi Ahmad and was singled out by Selangor's coach E. Elavarasan as a threat.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Buoyed by a resurgence in form, he hopes to play a part in today's Sultan of Selangor's Cup

Even if he comes onto the pitch as a late substitute in today's Sultan of Selangor's Cup, Shahril Ishak believes that is all the time he needs to make a difference for the hosts.

Such is the confidence surging through the national captain, whose best days seemed to be behind him after his contract with Malaysian second-tier club Johor Darul Takzim II ended last year.

The 33-year-old playmaker has enjoyed an Indian summer since joining S-League side Warriors FC. He has scored four goals in seven matches, one more than his total last season in the Malaysia Premier League.

He said yesterday: "I was surprised with my own performance this year too, and it has encouraged me and kept my self-belief.

"It means a lot to me that I can be playing like this again. The mentality is simple - I'm just enjoying every moment I get on the field."

He is part of the 20-man Singapore Selection squad, led by Fandi Ahmad, and was singled out by the Malaysian state team's coach E. Elavarasan as a threat.

NEVER SAY NEVER

Deep inside my heart, I still want to contribute to Singapore football.

SHAHRIL ISHAK, national captain, believes he still has much to offer despite being a veteran.

Elavarasan, also the coach of Malaysia Super League side PKNS, said: "Singapore have picked the best of their S-League players. Besides that, they have a few players like Shahril and Hariss Harun who have played many games in Malaysia. So they would be familiar with us and with playing games like this."

The 132-capped Shahril has been used mainly as a substitute by national coach V. Sundramoorthy and maintained he could still be an asset to the Lions, who host Chinese Taipei on June 10 in their second Group E match of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup third-round qualifiers.

Shahril said: "Deep inside my heart, I still want to contribute to Singapore football. But I know that I have to work hard to earn a national cap now because it's so competitive, especially with many youngsters in the team."

He was thrilled to receive the call from Fandi for tonight's clash at the National Stadium. Singapore are hosting the Cup for the first time since 2009 while Shahril's last appearance was in the 2010 edition, when Singapore won 6-0.

"To be part of the Singapore selection means that you're among the best in Singapore, and every player in the S-League wants to be part of the game," he said, before adding with a laugh: "Hopefully, I will get a minute to play and to score."

The Cup looks set to have a good atmosphere. More than 26,000 tickets have been sold and about 100 buses are expected to ferry fans from across the Causeway to the 55,000-seat Kallang venue.

Lions' vice-captain and Home United midfielder Hariss said: "We've got the cream of the crop in the S-League. Selangor have brought the best of their available players. We can expect a high-level and a high-intensity match."

• Tickets can be bought at the National Stadium today and are also available at Sports Hub Tix.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Lion-heart Shahril eager to keep on shining'. Print Edition | Subscribe