Who can replace Khairul Amri?

Singapore's key striker will miss the World Cup Qualifier against Syria, but not all is lost for the Lions. Goal looks at four players that could fill in the void for Bernd Stange.

GOALBY    ZAIXIANG


Khairul Amri has often popped up with the goals when his country needed him the most, having scored seven goals in 12 appearances in 2014.

In last month’s crucial clash with Afghanistan, he proved to be the difference by scoring a bullet header to help Singapore eke out an undeserved 1-0 win.

However, due to yet another hamstring injury he picked up just nine minutes into the match against Terengganu on November 4, he was ruled out of the World Cup Qualifiers this time around.

Being the latest Singaporean footballer to reach 100 caps, he adds a great deal of experience to the team and it will be a tough task replacing him.

Goal looks at four players who could possibly step up to fill his shoes.

Fazrul Nawaz

It has been a stunning season so far for Fazrul Nawaz. For a guy who was so nearly forced to hang up his boots at the start of this season, it has been quite a turnaround. After his failed stint at Malaysian side Sabah FA where he was dismissed from the club due to contract disputes, he has turned his career around back in the S.League. Currently second on the goalscoring charts behind Brunei DPMM’s Rafael Ramazotti on 18 goals, he is on track to becoming the S.League’s highest local-born scorer this season. While he has not scored many for the Singapore national team over the years, it could be largely due to the fact that he has often been deployed on the wings. Fazrul has a wish to play upfront for his country and he did not disappoint by scoring the winner when he replaced the injured Khairul Amri in the match against the Cambodians. While he failed to make an impact against the Japanese and was replaced at the interval, it would be unfair to blame him as Singapore was on the back foot for most of the game. Without Amri, someone will have to step up and maybe it’s time for Singapore to trust Fazrul to do just that.

Safuwan Baharudin

Given Safuwan Baharudin’s successful partnership with Hariss Harun and Izzdin Shafiq in the middle of the park for Singapore, it is unlikely that Bernd Stange will risk changing a winning formula. That being said, Safuwan should still have no problems playing in the central striker role if called upon. While many strikers have faced lengthy goal droughts in their careers, scoring has never been a much of a problem for Safuwan even while playing as a defender. This season, he already has nine goals in all competitions for LionsXII and is in the best goalscoring form of his career thus far. Singapore would definitely benefit from Safuwan’s aerial prowess and combative nature if he plays upfront. For a guy who has managed to notch two goals even in the much stronger A-League, he will certainly be a threat.

Sahil Suhaimi

It has been a mixed season for Sahil Suhaimi. From the high of scoring two goals in the Malaysian FA Cup final to the low of flopping at the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on home soil, Sahil has experienced the ups and downs of a footballer’s career in a single season. After a period of low confidence and not playing much after the SEA Games, Sahil is slowly regaining the form that made him such a hot prospect in local football. While the 23-year-old is still far from the finished article and lacks experience on the international stage, there is something special about him. His ability to conjure up something out of nothing was on full display during the Malaysian FA Cup final when he ran half the length of the field to score a superb individual goal. He definitely possesses the talent and could be just the guy to replace Khairul Amri.  

Shahril Ishak

Shahril Ishak is one of the most decorated players in Singapore football. A definite starter for the team just a few years ago, much has changed since. With Bernd Stange preferring to play Safuwan in the attacking midfield role which Shahril favours, he has often found himself on the bench. In the World Cup Qualifier against Afghanistan, Shahril was largely ineffective and was duly replaced at halftime. One cannot help but wonder if Shahril has already passed his prime. However, for a man who is still only 31 and has been the cornerstone of Singapore’s successes in the past decade, it might still be too early to completely write him off. He was an unused substitute against Japan and he will have a point to prove should he be picked to play tomorrow.