AFF Suzuki Cup: Shahdan Sulaiman eyes berth in 23-man Singapore squad

Sulaiman was part of the Lions' squad during their title-winning run in 2012.

Shahdan Bin Sulaiman
File photo of Singapore midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman (L) Reuters

Shahdan Sulaiman revealed he is motivated to work hard and make it to the final Singapore squad of 23 members for the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup, starting 19 November.

The Tampines midfielder has been on the receiving end of recurring leg injuries and was out of competitive action after suffering a fracture to his right fibula in July, shortly after he recovered from a similar injury in May.

On his return, Sulaiman played the full 90 minutes of the Stags' Singapore Cup final defeat (2-0) against S.League champions Albirex Niigata. He was a surprise inclusion in V Sundramoorthy's 28-man preliminary squad, which will have a five-day training camp in Doha from Wednesday ahead of their Suzuki Cup assignment.

Sundram would be happy to have the 28-year-old in the squad in Philippines as he has the experience of playing at the Suzuki Cup for three consecutive editions, including Singapore's title-winning campaign in 2012.

Sulaiman, who has made 44 international appearances, though is not thinking too much into making it to the final list but says he will be focussed on making the most of the next two weeks. Notably, Singapore are set to play two friendlies - against Syria on 9 November and Cambodia on 13 November - to wind the preparations for their big test.

"I could last the game [Singapore Cup final], which was a final and not easy, and I am playing without discomfort. Slowly, I am getting there," Sulaiman was quoted as saying by Today Online.

"At the back of my mind, I knew I had to make it back in time for the Suzuki Cup; that was a target for me to work towards. I am delighted and happy to be back in the national set-up.

"I have to do my best these coming two weeks and hopefully get a slot. It would be very motivating for me to make the squad and hopefully, I can help the team."

Nevertheless, the upcoming Suzuki Cup will be an acid test for Sundram as he has won only one game - against Myanmar, which was also the last time Sulaiman played for the Lions - after taking over as coach in May.

The Lions have succumbed to four defeats since then and also played out a dull, goalless draw against arch-rivals Malaysia in the Causeway Challenge in October.