Lions' front four give Stange hope
The national football team have struggled with goals, but coach Bernd Stange is optimistic that, in the current batch of forwards, there is hope for a brighter future.
In Shahril Ishak , 30 (Johor Darul Ta'zim II), Sahil Suhaimi, 21, (Courts Young Lions), Khairul Amri, 29, and Shahfiq Ghani, 22 (both LionsXII), the German clearly believes he has four front men who can propel the Lions to greater heights.
Asked about the foursome, the coach smiled broadly and responded simply: "There is light at the end of the tunnel."
Amri and Sahil have been called up to the Singapore squad that will travel to Reunion Island to face France's Under-21 side on Monday.
And the duo can already feel the positivity.
"We have been helped by senior players and naturalised citizens in the past few years, and now it's time for us to step up," said Amri, who has been given the skipper's armband in Stange's latest squad.
Amri has scored five goals all season, and two in the last three games, and he is buzzing with optimism.
"I think if the four of us do make the squad for November's AFF Suzuki Cup squad, we will get goals."
Sahil has scored five times in seven S.League games, this after missing the first six matches for not passing the league's mandatory fitness test.
"After missing so many games, I felt like I owed a lot to the team, and that has made me work harder to repay them," he said.
"Shahril and Amri have achieved so much, and it feels like Shahfiq and I have to step up and work harder."
Shahril and Amri have been in the national side since 2004, winning three Asean titles (2005, 2007 and 2012) under former national coach Radojko Avramovic.
Former Tampines Rovers forward Amri has an S.League title to his name, while Shahril won the Malaysian Super League title with the LionsXII last year.
Watching various Singapore teams win the Suzuki Cup has inspired Sahil, who vividly remembers seeing former international Noh Alam Shah lift the Suzuki Cup in 2007.
"I liked him best: his aggression, how he dribbled - and of course, how he scored," said Sahil.
"We spoke when we met in the gym, and he told me that when you're in a team that start to win, you get that winning feeling," said Sahil.
"And that's what I want: that winning feeling."