The highlight of Singapore Lions coach Takayuki Nishigaya’s squad announced for the upcoming two-legged FIFA World Cup and Asian Cup first round qualifier against Guam was that he has one Fandi brother back in the running for selection.
Ilhan Fandi’s name in the squad list brought on some cheers as the Lions prepared for their two legged clash against Guam, currently ranked 201 in the world.
Ilhan’s name on the squad list comes some nine months after he limped off the artificial Jalan Besar Stadium turf after sustaining a tear in his anterior cruciate ligament in the ASEAN Football Federation championship group stage match against Vietnam.
“I have unfinished business,” the striker who is currently in Belgium with KMSK Deinze told The Straits Times.
“I felt that I was really having a good momentum and was in good form before the injury.
“I want to pick up where I left off.”
THE BAD NEWS
While Ilhan’s return would put some smiles on some faces, the squad is still missing a some star names.
Irfan Fandi is injured, as is Ikhsan Fandi.
Ryhan Stewart’s name is also not on the list as he suffered a hamstring injury during his club BG Pathum’s opening Asian Football Confederation Champions League match on 19 September.
He scored BG Pathum’s only goal in that 3-1 defeat.
WHAT THE NATIONAL COACH SAYS
Nishigaya should well be aware that his job is on the line, and is already reaching the tail end of his two-year term.
Losing to Guam over two legs would only send Singapore further down the football abyss.
“The players know that they have to treat these next two games as cup finals. Qualification to Round 2 will earn us a chance not just to play against some of the biggest teams in Asian football, but also gives us the opportunity to qualify for the 2027 Asian Cup.
“Against Guam, we are playing in Singapore first and have to utilise the home ground advantage with the support of all of our fans.”
Squad: Hassan Sunny (Albirex Niigata), Syazwan Buhari (Tampines Rovers), Zharfan Rohaizad (Lion City Sailors), Amirul Adli (Geylang International), M. Anumanthan, Lionel Tan, Christopher van Huizen, Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Sailors), Jacob Mahler (Madura United), Irfan Najeeb, Glenn Kweh (Tampines), Hariss Harun, Hami Syahin, Adam Swandi (Sailors), Joel Chew, Shah Shahiran (Tampines), Farhan Zulkifli (Young Lions), Shahdan Sulaiman, Zulfahmi Arifin (Hougang United), Song Ui-young (Persebaya Surabaya), Hafiz Nor, Shawal Anuar (Sailors), Iqbal Hussain (Geylang), Daniel Goh (Balestier Khalsa), Ilhan Fandi (KMSK Deinze)