FFT's Zee Ko chats to Sahil Suhaimi, the turbo-charged LionsXII and Singapore forward who has divided opinion since he burst on to the local football scene...
From the highs of the FA Cup victory to the lows of the SEA Games elimination, do you feel you’ve matured as a player after this emotional rollercoaster ride?
Since we won the FA Cup, I’ve learnt a lot not to be complacent, to stay on your feet and to work even more on my finishing. I know things didn't go my way during the SEA Games and it was a bad tournament for me personally, but I have to put it aside and bounce stronger back from that.
It’s been quite a year. You’ve had people cheering you and then booing you at other times. Do you work well under pressure, or when you have the full support of people behind you?
I think both ways. When I’m on the field, I’ll just focus on the field. For the cheering part, I’ll put that aside because I’ve got to do what’s on the field first.
You've scored a couple of important goals coming off the bench this season, instead of being in the starting line-up. Some people are calling you the LionsXII super-sub. Is that a tag you’re comfortable with?
(Long pause) For now, maybe yes because I’m still young and trying to learn as much as I can from the senior players. As I grow older, I’ll [try to transition] from being a super-sub to a member of the first eleven.
How have you found your first year at the LionsXII?
I think it’s been great. My teammates have been encouraging me a lot and teaching me stuff. The bond is there so I try to learn as much as I can, so I can teach younger players what to do in the future when I become a senior member of the team.
Has the transition been difficult moving from the Courts Young Lions to the current set-up? Was the level of the Malaysian Super League what you expected it would be?
I didn’t expect it! Usually when people come to the LionsXII and play in the MSL, they like to start slow. But for me, I like to take on challenges and play at a higher level.
It’s much tougher here; your opponents are physically so much stronger. I think I’ve done all right though.
Have you set yourself any targets at all for the rest of this season?
No, not really. For this year, my main target is to do well with the team and just have fun with my new teammates.
What’s next now the SEA Games is over?
We definitely want to qualify for the Malaysia Cup and also try to win it if possible. That’s our main goal. [What about the World Cup qualifiers? - FFT] Yeah cannot forget that too! Hopefully we can beat Syria again.
Hassan Sunny and Safuwan Baharudin have made waves this year after moving abroad. Any thoughts of a future move overseas?
It’s always been my dream to play in Europe. I aim far, but it’s okay if I end up in Malaysia or Australia like what Safuwan did. As long as I get the exposure of playing outside Singapore, I’m fine.
Has Safuwan been telling the team about his experience of playing in Australia?
Yah he’s said it’s not easy down there and you have to work really hard. Having said that [the opportunity to potentially make similar moves] excites us. We, as players, want to try to play outside of Singapore and find out what football is like in another country.
Watching Safuwan on TV, I tell myself I want to play there one day.
Sahil Suhaimi wears the Nike Hypervenom II, a boot designed for attacking players who are deceptive by nature on the pitch. Click here to find out more about Nike Football or follow @NikeFootball on Twitter and Instagram.