S-League hotshot Fazrul set to lead the Lions' line

The experienced Fazrul Nawaz may not be as prolific as other strikers but he is tenacious with a solid work rate.
The experienced Fazrul Nawaz may not be as prolific as other strikers but he is tenacious with a solid work rate.ST FILE PHOTO

Goal-scoring chances will likely be at a premium for Singapore when they take on Japan at the National Stadium this evening. To make matters worse, they have to play without chief striker Khairul Amri, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Besides being a goal threat, the 30-year-old LionsXII forward is also known for his willingness to close down defenders high up the pitch - as he did in Singapore's 0-0 draw against Japan in June.

But national coach Bernd Stange is adamant his team can cope without Amri, who has scored half his 30 international goals in the last 30 months.

He said: "There is not one national team which depends on one player. He will be a big miss but we are confident of finding a way to substitute Amri."

The man likely to replace Amri is 30-year-old Warriors FC hit-man Fazrul Nawaz, who is second in the S-League scorers chart with 18 goals.

The other options are LionsXII striker Sahil Suhaimi, who is not a starter for his club, and national captain Shahril Ishak, 31, who Stange said did not possess the fitness to last an international match.

Yesterday, Fazrul told The Straits Times: "We hope Amri will recover soon but there are many players capable of stepping up and giving a good game.

"I just want to do my best if called upon. For me, it's all about team ethic and I will work hard to close down defenders and (passing options) with my team-mates."

With nine goals in 77 international appearances, Fazrul, who wears a distinctive protective headgear after fracturing his skull and cheekbone two years ago, may not be as prolific as Amri.

But what he does offer is tenacity, experience and solid work rate up front - which would come in handy against a Japan side expected to dominate possession.

The former LionsXII player also put in a successful audition for the central role last month, coming off the bench for the injured Amri to score Singapore's winner in the 2-1 triumph over Cambodia.

He said: "The goal definitely gave me confidence that I can contribute positively. Regardless, I hope the fans will fill the stadium and be the 12th man for us."

Chua Siang Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'S-League hotshot Fazrul set to lead the Lions' line'. Print Edition | Subscribe