Singapore start in Asian Cup qualifier 'out of my control' says Shahril
Singapore captain Shahril Ishak hopes that his impressive form with Warriors FC will play himself into coach V. Sundramoorthy's plans when the Lions host Turkmenistan in a crucial AFC Asian Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old has enjoyed an excellent return to the S.League after three years in the Malaysia second-tier with Johor Darul Ta'zim II, scoring 12 goals in all competitions under Razif Onn.
His previous best return was 17 goals for Home United in the 2010 season -- just before he left for Persib Bandung in Indonesia.
While Shahril is still the official skipper for the Lions, he has become a peripheral figure on the international scene for the past couple of years.
His last start came under Bernd Stange's last match in charge of Singapore as the Lions fell to a 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat away to Afghanistan in March 2016.
Since then, he had to be content with making cameos off the bench. In Thursday night's 1-1 friendly draw with Hong Kong, he came on as an 71st-minute substitute for Faris Ramli to earn his 134th cap.
"Of course, I hope to have a chance to play in the first eleven, but it depends on the coach," Shahril told ESPN FC. "He has his own preferred starting eleven, so it's all beyond my control.
"For me, I just want to give the support for the team and be ready to be called upon whenever they need me to play.
"There's no secret [to my good form]. I just be myself, and give my 110 percent, be it for the Warriors, or for the national team. I just want to enjoy every single moment inside the field and I'm still very motivated to achieve things [at this age]."
With Singapore now bottom of Group E after one point from two outings, they desperately need a home win to resurrect their dreams of making it to United Arab Emirates in 2019.
Next up for the Lions is a double-header against Turkmenistan. They will host the central Asians on Sept. 5 before travelling to Ashgabat on Oct. 10.
Shahril believes his side have learnt the lessons from the shock 2-1 home defeat to Chinese Taipei in June.
"Of course, it's a missed opportunity against Chinese Taipei, and we should have collected at least one point," the veteran said.
"But it's history now. It's a team mistake, I believe the boys have learnt from it and we want to look forward now.
"These next two games are a do-or-die thing for us and we need to collect the six points if possible. We come to training every day to put ourselves in a better condition and I believe we can do well [after holding Hong Kong]."
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT