Sahil: No regrets choosing football over silat
Sahil went against family trend but has no regrets
He burst onto the scene in 2013 and was quickly tagged as one of Singapore's brightest attacking prospects.
He was a regular on the scoresheet for the Courts Young Lions in the S.League last year, with an exquisite bicycle-kick goal against Woodlands Wellington one of the highlights of the season.
He joined Fandi Ahmad's LionsXII this year, and was the hero in the Malaysian FA Cup final less than two weeks ago, coming on in the second half at Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Jalil Stadium and firing in two late goals to help his team to a 3-1 victory over a luckless Kelantan.
Tomorrow, Sahil Suhaimi will almost certainly lead the line for the Singapore Under-23s when they kick off their 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games football campaign against the Philippines at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Few know that the 22-year-old spent the fledgling years of his career wondering if he made the right choice picking football over silat.
"I just never thought I'd be a football star one day," the talented striker told The New Paper yesterday.
"I never really gave much thought about it when I was a kid."
Growing up in a family of silat exponents, Sahil picked up the martial art while in Tanjong Katong Primary School, well way before he got his first experience in football.
His uncle is former world champion Hidayat Hosni, head coach at the Singapore Silat Federation, while his mother Shamsiah Mohd Hosni was a former exponent.
And another former world champion, 2005 Sportsgirl of the Year Saiedah Said, is his cousin.
"Silat was more of a family thing for me," he said.
"My family members are all about silat. But since I changed my focus to football, it's been my passion.
"Although my parents and family have always been positive about my dreams, there were times when I asked myself if I should have stuck to silat.
"But now, with all the enjoyment I get from playing football, I don't think about it any more.
"Especially after the FA Cup final, that was a huge step.
"I made the right decision."
His silat experience helps, because the 1.63m tall Sahil uses his low centre of gravity and quick movement to navigate a way past taller and more physical defenders.
Looking ahead to tomorrow's match, he said: "They (the Philippines) are quite an aggressive team and they have big and strong players, so I'm expecting a physical approach from them.
"But I can use my frame to my advantage, and I have experience of playing against such teams in the Malaysian Super League.
"So, I think I'm ready for it. There is always a way."
Aide Iskandar's Young Lions are dreaming of a first football gold for the country at the SEA Games, and have been drawn in Group A with the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia.
Thailand's Chananan Pombuppha put himself top of the scorers' chart after his four-goal display against Laos in Friday's Group B clash.
"As usual, we'll take it one game at a time. You have to look at every match as another three points to be won," said Sahil.
"Chananan scored four already and, although I don't set goal targets, I want to get off to a good start as well.
"But, most importantly, it's all about the win.
"It's the team that matters."
Win a signed jersey by U-23 stars
The Young Lions kick off their SEA Games campaign tomorrow, as they launch their bid to win the elusive gold medal.
Ahead of their first Group A match against the Philippines, The New Paper is giving away a national team jersey signed by Under-23 stars Faris Ramli and Sahil Suhaimi.
Stand a chance to win the jersey by following these simple steps - Follow, Favourite, Retweet and Reply #FollowFaveRTReply
- Step 1: Follow us on @TNPSports on Twitter
- Step 2: Our contest tweet will be hashtagged #TNPIWant
- Step 3: Favourite, retweet and reply the contest tweet
The contest ends at 6pm tomorrow.
The winner will be picked at random, and notified via Twitter tomorrow.
Remember, you must be a follower of @TNPSports on Twitter to win.
So what are you waiting for? Start following us @TNPSports for awesome prizes!