Nazrul eyes attacking role
He made his name as a flying winger, then got converted into a handy attacking fullback.
Nazrul Ahmad Nazari is out to prove he still has what it takes in an advanced role.
Ahead of Singapore's Asian Cup Group E qualifying match against Taiwan at the Jalan Besar Stadium tomorrow night, the diminutive 26-year-old staked his claim for a starting role in midfield, with a fine goal against Myanmar in a sparring match on Tuesday.
Deep in injury time, Nazrul timed his run to perfection to meet Khairul Nizam's cutback, and fired home a crisp volley from the edge of the box to salvage a 1-1 draw.
Having started the game on the bench, Nazrul hopes to be in the starting 11 tomorrow.
"Maybe... Hopefully, I'll get a surprise (and start)," he said with a smile, when asked if the goal was a good omen ahead of the Taiwan game.
"At the end of the day, I know I have to keep my head down and keep working hard in training, and if I get a chance, do my best to help the team score goals."
Nazrul made his breakthrough in 2015 as part of the LionsXII team that played in the Malaysian Super League.
Because of an injury crisis, he was converted into a right back, and shone in the role.
He even held his own against Asia's giants, when he played in Singapore's shock 0-0 with Japan in Saitama in a World Cup qualifier in June that year.
Nazrul eventually moved back to his favoured role as winger and continued to excel.
But the LionsXII were disbanded at the end of that season, and Nazrul joined S.League side Hougang United, where he has been a constant on the right side of defence for the Cheetahs for the past two seasons.
Said Nazrul: "I'm motivated to show the coaches I want to be in my own position (in midfield), not others."
His efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Said national coach V Sundramoorthy: "He has been competing well in training and looks very hungry.
"I felt he deserved a run-out against Myanmar and I'm glad he showed he can take chances when they come."