Shahdan's chance to start tonight
Midfielder Shahdan set to start against Kelantan, wants to prove he's fit enough
LIONSXII v KELANTAN
(Tonight, 9pm, StarHub TV Ch 112/205 & 76.25MHz)
The waiting game is over for Shahdan Sulaiman.
The LionsXII midfielder is chomping at the bit for a chance to prove his injury woes are well and truly behind him.
He will get his wish tonight, when the Singapore side host Kelantan FA in their Malaysian Super League (MSL) match tonight at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Shahdan, 27, is set to be handed a free role behind main striker Khairul Amri, as coach Fandi Ahmad plots to claim all three points.
"I want to make my mark and show I'm ready to fight for a place in the first 11," Shahdan told The New Paper before yesterday's training session at Jalan Besar.
"The number of minutes I play does not matter.
"What matters is my contribution to the team and, be it a goal or assist, I hope I can make something happen."
Shahdan insists his injury nightmare is a thing of the past.
While in action for the national team at the Suzuki Cup last November, he fractured his fibula and dislocated his ankle after an accidental collision with Amri during the Lions' 4-2 win over Myanmar.
The horrific injury required surgery to insert eight screws into Shahdan's right leg and left him on crutches for seven weeks.
But on June 20, in just his second appearance in a LionsXII jersey, the midfield star came off the bench to score in the 3-1 win over ATM FA at Jalan Besar.
He had previously come on as a late substitute in the 2-1 win over Sime Darby on May 2, but did not touch the ball.
If Shahdan thought the goal against ATM would be a turning point in his season, though, he was wrong.
He spent the next two games - a 1-1 draw with ATM in Paroi and a 2-1 defeat by PDRM FA in Shah Alam - warming the bench, as Fandi warned against rushing his "asset" back too soon.
Shahdan, who has 42 international caps under his belt, has been yearning for another chance to show he is ready for more action.
"Definitely (being left out for two games) makes me hungrier," he said.
"I just can't wait for the game against Kelantan to start.
"The longer I wait, the more things are on my mind.
"I just want to get on the field and play."
Fandi feels that with the home crowd at Jalan Besar behind him, Shahdan can show what he is capable of.
"I want him to help us dominate the midfield," said the coach, who is mulling over fielding either Faris Ramli or Sahil Suhaimi on the left wing.
"He can influence our game with his vision and by penetrating the Kelantan backline with late runs into the penalty box.
"As a No. 10, he has the freedom, he can go anywhere in the final third.
"He and Safuwan (Baharudin) can give us some attacking punch from midfield, with Izzdin (Shafiq) sitting behind them.
"There'll be no change to the game plan. We'll still go for goals."
LionsXII probable line-up:
- Izwan Mahbud, Nazrul Nazari, Madhu Mohana, Shakir Hamzah, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Izzdin Shafiq, Safuwan Baharudin, Gabriel Quak, Shahdan Sulaiman, Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri
- Felda v Sime Darby
- Terengganu v Sarawak
- Johor Darul Ta'zim v PDRM
- Selangor v Pahang
- Perak v ATM FA
*All at 10pm