Football: Gabriel Quak hopes Cup debut will spark season lift-off

Smiles all around the Singapore camp - (from left) players Ho Wai Loon, Gabriel Quak and Shahril Ishak, Sultan of Selangor Cup co-chairman Teo Hock Seng, Singapore Selection head coach Fandi Ahmad, team manager Noh Alam Shah and assistant coach Nazri
Smiles all around the Singapore camp - (from left) players Ho Wai Loon, Gabriel Quak and Shahril Ishak, Sultan of Selangor Cup co-chairman Teo Hock Seng, Singapore Selection head coach Fandi Ahmad, team manager Noh Alam Shah and assistant coach Nazri Nasir - as they gear up for Saturday's clash with Selangor at National Stadium.PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Lions winger Gabriel Quak is hoping to rejuvenate his season by playing a starring role in Saturday's Sultan of Selangor's Cup.

The 26-year-old Geylang International midfielder was dropped from the national squad by coach V. Sundramoorthy in March, when Singapore secured a valuable point in their AFC Asian Cup qualifiers with goalless draw away at Bahrain.

He has also started on the bench in his last three S-League matches. The Eagles have won twice and lost once during that spell, and are fifth in the table after seven games.

Still, Quak has been included in the Singapore Selection squad, led by local football icon Fandi Ahmad, for the exhibition match against the Malaysian state at the National Stadium. It will also be his debut at the annual competition.

Quak said: "To be honest, I haven't been playing well this season and I haven't been having the best start to a season. So I really appreciate the chance to play in this match for the first time.

  • SINGAPORE SELECTION

  • GOALKEEPERS

    Hassan Sunny (Home United), Zaiful Nizam (Balestier Khalsa)

    DEFENDERS

    Ho Wai Loon (Warriors FC), Irfan Fandi, Afiq Yunos (Home), Faritz Hameed (Geylang International), Shakir Hamzah (Tampines Rovers), Zulfahmi Arifin (Hougang United), Yasutaka Yanagi (Albirex Niigata)

    MIDFIELDERS

    Hariss Harun (Home), Kento Nagasaki (Albirex), Hami Syahin (Garena Young Lions), Raihan Rahman (Balestier), Shahril Ishak (Warriors), Yasir Hanapi (Tampines)

    FORWARDS

    Taufik Suparno (Young Lions), Khairul Amri (Tampines), Gabriel Quak (Geylang), Khairul Nizam, Faris Ramli, Stipe Plazibat (Home)

"It's comforting for me to know that I am selected. I have trained under Fandi when I was in the LionsXII and I think he can bring out the best in me.

"This match came at a right time for me, I hope to be able to find joy in playing again. Before the season started, I was playing sharp.

"But I felt like I have not been my usual self after the first game. I'm just looking to enjoy my football again."

The squad will be finalised tomorrow. For now, Fandi has chosen a strong line-up including senior international team players like national skipper Shahril Ishak, vice-captain Hariss Harun, goalkeeper Hassan Sunny and striker Khairul Amri.

The 54-year-old Fandi, once one of the region's top forwards, will stay true to his attacking instincts for this weekend's clash, which the visitors lead 7-6 overall. The national head coach of youth said: "We can expect to see a lot of attacking football. We want to score goals."

Fandi will be joined in the dugout by former national striker Noh Alam Shah, who was named team manager.

The 36-year-old last played for Tampines Rovers in 2015 and is known for his passion for the game.

He said: "When the players were called up, they never said no. They've ignited the fire in me again. And I hope that they will show the fire in them like how I showed my fire last time."

The friendly match at the 55,000 seat National Stadium will be hosted by Singapore for the first time since 2009, and 24,788 tickets have been sold.

• Tickets are available at sportshubtix.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2017, with the headline 'Quak hopes Cup debut will spark season lift-off'. Print Edition | Subscribe