Azhar ready for second Singapore baptism of fire

Home United midfielder Azhar Sairudin made his debut for Singapore against Myanmar last month and found out how difficult international football can be, but he is confident he can put in an improved showing this time round… 

In all honesty, Azhar Sairudin had given up hope of ever representing his nation, especially since he was approaching his 30th birthday this September.

But to his surprise, the Home United midfielder was included in V.Sundramoorthy’s Singapore squad last month for the AYA Cup hosted by Myanmar.

Azhar went on to earn two international caps as he was part of the squad that beat Myanmar 1-0 before falling to Vietnam 3-0 after extra-time.

The taste of international football ignited the fire in his belly and he now harbours hopes of donning the nation’s colour once more, especially at the year-end Suzuki Cup.

Azhar's displays for Home have caught Sundram's eyes

“Obviously I am shocked, but I am still trying to get used to international football. Hopefully I can stay in shape and stay in the squad so I can make the cut for the Suzuki Cup,” Azhar told FourFourTwo.

I was very shocked by the pace of international, it was totally different from the S.League.

- Azhar

“I will give my best in the S.League now so the coach will see my performance for the club and keep me in his plans.”

Now, the silky playmaker has been given another chance to impress Sundram after he was called up for Singapore’s latest training tour in Japan and is also part of the squad that will play against Cambodia on Thursday.

Looking back, Azhar felt he could have done better in Myanmar, admitting that his nerves got the better of him.

“Maybe I was nervous due to it being my debut, but hopefully this time around it can be better,” Azhar shared.

Azhar hopes he can continue to impress Sundram

“I was very shocked by the pace of international football, it was totally different from the S.League. The pace, the intensity and level of football, it was on a different level.”

Looking ahead to the international friendly match with Cambodia, Azhar expressed hopes he could give a better account of himself, especially since he now knew what international football felt like.

“Based on the experience I had, slowly but surely I can cope with the pace,” the former Hougang player said.

“My mentality totally had to change and now rest is a key factor, as training with Singapore is different than at the club level.

“I need to show more composure because during the debut against Myanmar, I think I did OK, but I know I can do more.”

Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo