Shahril Ishak pushes Singapore claims with Warriors FC hat trick
Singapore captain Shahril Ishak hopes that his hat trick for Warriors FC in the 5-1 League Cup semifinal victory over Brunei DPMM has sent a message to national boss V. Sundramoorthy.
Coach Sundram was watching in the stands at Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday night as Shahril struck three times, putting Steve Kean's side to the sword, and booking a place for Warriors in Friday's final.
Since returning to the S.League from Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim II at the end of last year, 33-year-old Shahril has been in sparkling form for an impressive Warriors outfit.
Shahril has earned 133 international caps since 2003, but has been mostly coming off the bench since Sundram took over in May 2016.
"Of course it's an honour to play for the national team. I always give my best, and hopefully I will start," Shahril told ESPN FC.
"In life, you never give up. In the training I give 110 percent, and that's what I did in this game for the team."
Shahril scored Warriors' all-important second goal in the shadows of half-time after Ho Wai Loon released Jordan Webb, who crossed from the right for Shahril to finish.
He scored his second -- and Warriors' fourth -- in the 70th minute after volleying home Ho's cross from the left. And he completed his hat trick in the 90th minute by coolly slotting home a penalty for the last goal of the game.
Shahril now has 10 goals in all competitions this seasons, including six in the S.League.
"I feel very wonderful," Shahril said of his first hat trick in seven years.
"But I must give credit to the team. They really went all out and we are one step closer to the final, and we did it tonight."
Shahril and Canadian-born Webb both put in eye-catching performances to help the Singaporean outfit move closer to winning the League Cup for the first time.
"You can also see how Jordan [Webb] and Shahril played... they went down the flank and sent in crosses, which was fantastic," Warriors' FC coach Razif Onn said.
"Hopefully, they can do it in the final against Albirex. DPMM had chances but the important thing is the goals scored and we took our chances well to score five."
Shahril admits that beating 2016 quadruple winners Albirex in the final will be a tough task. The defending champions from Japan brushed aside Geylang International 4-0 in the other semifinal.
He said: "Of course, [the final will be] a very tough game. I'm sure the players are up for the challenge. We will give our best. Of course we can do it."
Shahril will be hoping for another strong performance to push for a starting place when Singapore host Turkmenistan in their next AFC Asian Cup qualifier on Sep. 5.
The Lions have struggled for penetration and attacking flair in competitive matches since Sundram took over.
They scored only once in three 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup matches in Philippines last November, and produced just one goal -- from midfielder Hariss Harun -- in their first 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers against Bahrain and Chinese Taipei.
Jason Dasey is ESPN FC Senior Editor in Singapore. Formerly Asian editor of FourFourTwo, he was also a CNN and BBC broadcaster. Twitter: @JasonDasey.