New boys Stephen and Rusyaidi earn nod over veteran Shaiful
National coach V Sundramoorthy has seen enough in training to deem fit to include new boys Shannon Stephen and Rusyaidi Salime in his 24-man squad that travelled to Qatar yesterday.
The Lions will play a warm-up fixture against Qatar on Thursday before a crucial Asian Cup Group E qualifier against Turkmenistan in Ashgabat on Oct 10.
The defensive duo - 23-year-old Shannon who can play as a centre back but has been deployed in the right wingback role for Tampines Rovers this season and 19-year-old Rusyaidi, a right back for the Garena Young Lions - got the nod ahead of veteran set-piece specialist Shaiful Esah who trained with Sundram's squad last week, but did not travel to the Middle East.
The Lions are currently bottom of Group E, with two draws and a loss in their first three outings, and have only three games left to rescue their campaign.
Bahrain lead the standings with seven points, followed by Turkmenistan on four points and Taiwan in third on three points.
An away victory over Turkmenistan will put the Lions back on track, and they can draw confidence from the 1-1 draw with the same opponents at the Jalan Besar Stadium last month.
The Lions jettisoned their cautious approach for an attacking display that won over fans and critics alike.
While Sundram's charges fashioned several goal-scoring opportunities in that fixture, it was poor finishing that saw them fail to beat a side currently ranked 26 spots higher than them in the Fifa world rankings.
Shakir Hamzah, the left wingback who scored Singapore's solitary goal against Turkmenistan in the previous tie, is sidelined with a hip injury.
With the right-sided Nazrul Nazari also missing, Sundram could make some key changes for the Qatar friendly on Thursday to prepare for the crucial Asian Cup qualifier against Turkmenistan.
Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny, Izwan Mahbud, Zaiful Nizam
Defenders: Daniel Bennett, Ho Wai Loon, Irfan Fandi, Madhu Mohana, Faritz Hameed, Rusyaidi Salime, Mustafic Fahrudin, Emmeric Ong, Shannon Stephen
Midfielders: Hariss Harun, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Shahril Ishak, Zulfahmi Arifin, Faris Ramli, Izzdin Shafiq, Safuwan Baharudin, Yasir Hanapi, Shahdan Sulaiman.
Forwards: Fazrul Nawaz, Ikhsan Fandi, Khairul Amri