Singapore Football

Mustafic: I can still contribute to Lions

Mustafic vows to work hard to repay Sundram's faith

TNP PHOTO: LIM SAY HENG

He is a two-time AFF Suzuki Cup winner and represented the Republic 79 times.

Yesterday, Mustafic Fahrudin was just happy to be wearing the white and grey national team training kit again.

The 35-year-old defensive midfielder, who was among a clutch of senior players overlooked by Bernd Stange during the German's reign from 2013 to earlier this year, attended his first Lions training session since he lifted the Suzuki Cup in 2012.

"It feels very good to be back in the national team," said Mustafic (above), ahead of the team's 90-minute session at the Geylang Field.

"I have had a lot of good memories with the team and it is really an honour for me to wear this jersey again."

The New Paper first reported in August that interim national coach V Sundramoorthy was considering calling up the Serbia-born player, affectionately known as Farra.

In his heyday, the Tampines Rovers captain was a fearsome defensive midfielder, who also had a knack for taking penalties.

While he acknowledged that age has caught up on him, and there are younger players hungry for a spot in the national team, he believes that he can still contribute to the Lions' cause.

"I have worked with Sundram for 18 months (at Tampines Rovers) and, before I got called up, he spoke to me," Mustafic said.

"He knows me well and I am very happy that he thinks I can still contribute to the team.

"I am not young any more, so I need to work even harder to stay in the squad."

Former Tampines coach Sundram says the midfielder's influence extends beyond just his on-pitch performance.

Sundram said: "He has the winning mentality, the character in the dressing room, and he gets the players focused on getting the job done.

"On the pitch, you can count on him to give nothing less than his 100 per cent.

"When we are down, he will be fighting and, if we are up, he will keep it (the momentum) going for the team.

"He brings steel to the team." - LIM SAY HENG

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