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 By Kelvin Leong

Abdil looks to Noh Rahman, Subramani and Azhar for Singapore inspiration

Home United defender Abdil Qaiyyim will seek inspiration from Singapore's veterans when he joins up with the national squad for their tour of Japan later this month.

V. Sundramoorthy's charges are heading to Japan where they will take on J-League club Albirex Niigata (FC) on July 24. More friendlies are being arranged by the Football Association of Singapore and they will also travel to Phnom Penh to face Cambodia in an international friendly.

Singapore's last outing saw Sundram make his debut as national team coach at the AYA Cup in Myanmar, where Singapore made the final, only to lose 3-0 to Vietnam after extra time.

Abdil is one of four Protectors to be called up for the 25-man squad to Japan, together with midfielders Azhar Sairudin, Zulfahmi Arifin and striker Khairul Nizam. Geylang International's 38-year-old defender Daniel Bennett has also earned a recall after a three-year absence.

Azhar, who made his international debut last month in the AYA Cup at the age of 30, has been Abdil's inspiration as he battled thoughts of never playing for Singapore, despite being on the fringes during Bernd Stange's regime.

Home United defender Abdil Qaiyyim
Abdil Qaiyyim will be hoping to earn his first international cap for Singapore against Cambodia.

"Azhar's call up allowed me to believe that not all is gone. Being 27 and still without a cap for Singapore makes it hard because you see younger players getting called up," he told ESPN FC.

"My first and only call up before this was in May 2013 [when he didn't get onto the field] and so it is obvious that I'm quite excited with this opportunity.

"This Japan tour is very important for me because it allows coach Sundram to look at our performances, and I'm hoping to improve my game training around the country's top players.

"There are more experienced players at this level in the squad like Madhu [Mohana], Daniel [Bennett] and Afiq [Yunos]. I'll try and learn and compete for a starting berth but it'll be up to the coach."

Having played under Sundram for the LionsXII in 2012, Abdil is confident that Sundram is the right man to lead Singapore in their quest for a fifth ASEAN crown when the competition kicks off in mid-November in Manila and Yangon.

"Coach Sundram is a good tactician. You can see it from his time with the LionsXII," he added.

"The way he got the team to play to his style which eventually led to them winning the [Malaysia Super League] title shows that he knows what he is doing.

"He'll field the best team possible to win but I hope I can get my first cap against Cambodia and squeeze onto that flight for the Suzuki Cup."

Singapore defender Noh Rahman
Singapore's Noh Rahman up against Australia striker Mark Viduka in a friendly in 2007.

Having grown up watching Singapore dominate Malaysian domestic football and challenge for regional titles in the 1980s and 1990s, it is perhaps surprising that the Protectors centre-back's choice of inspiration comes from the Radojko Avramovic era, in the shape of former Home United legends S. Subramani and Noh Rahman.

"I grew up watching that bicycle kick from Sundram. But then as I got older, I started appreciating the way players like coach Mani and abang Noh play the game," said Abdil.

"You can see that every time they are on the pitch, they bring an air of calmness, authority and stability to the team.

"Their reading of the game is something I look up to and if the opportunity comes along, I want to emulate their success with Singapore."

Singapore will miss the services of the Malaysia-based quartet of Hariss Harun, Baihakki Khaizan, Shahril Ishak and Safuwan Baharudin while goalkeeper Hassan Sunny has to fulfill his club duties with Thai club Army United.

ESPN FC editor Kelvin Leong is a former media officer for Singapore and ex-regional editor of ESPNSTAR.com. Twitter: @KelvinLeong29.

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