Home United goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at is ready to fight it out with Hassan Sunny and Izwan Mahbud, after being recalled to the Singapore national team.
This is Hyrulnizam’s first call-up under current national coach Bernd Stange, with his last international involvement coming during the victorious 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign when he was back-up to Izwan in all seven games.
Speaking to FourFourTwo on Friday evening after the 20-men squad for the upcoming friendlies against Thailand and Guam was officially announced, the 28-year-old was visibly delighted to return to the national fold.
“Honestly I didn’t expect the call-up,” he said.
“I was just focusing on working hard for my club and to compete for a starting spot with Shahril (Jantan) right from the start of the pre-season. Both of us have been trying hard to fight for that spot which was a good thing for me.
“It’s good to come back into this team and see some familiar faces again. The main priority now is to get back to winning ways and it’ll be a really good test against ASEAN champions Thailand.”
It has been an inspiring comeback story for Hyrulnizam, who defied the odds to continue playing football, after he sustained a fibromotasis tumour on his right glute while playing for Tampines Rovers last season.
Despite discovering the tumour after the 2014 Charity Shield game against the Protectors, he chose to play through the pain barrier and completed a total of 19 games (1 AFC Champions League qualifier, 6 AFC Cup matches and 12 S.League matches).
It was not till the pain got unbearable that ‘Ah Lau’ decided to proceed ahead with surgery.
Although the rehabilitation process was admittedly one of the toughest challenges of his career, the custodian eventually managed to pull through with the encouragement of wife Fizah Mohd.
“It was a painful experience for me last year, both physically and mentally,” he said.
“I was really enjoying my football last year before this injury struck. The doctor actually told me to quit football and if I was to play again, my condition will not be as good as before.
“I was sad but I told myself not to give up and work even harder. The greatest motivation was my wife as she advised me a lot of stuffs and told me to go and excel further instead of giving up.
“Eventually the doctor was surprised with my progression and I’m really happy to be back to doing what I love now.”
Now fully recovered after seven months out, Hyrulnizam is up and running again as he started the season well with the Protectors – dislodging the more senior Shahril to make the No. 1 spot his for now.
The latest recall gives the goalkeeper a chance to add to the four international caps he gained three years ago in the build-up to the AFF Suzuki Cup.
“Hassan and Izwan are the two best goalkeepers in Singapore, so it’s now up to me to take up this challenge and prove myself where I stand amongst them,” he said.
The Singapore national team will leave for Korat, Thailand on Monday, 23 March before taking on AFF Suzuki Cup holders Thailand on Thursday, 26 March.
They will return to Singapore on Friday, 27 March before hosting Guam on Tuesday, 31 March at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Singapore squad for matches against Thailand and Guam
Hassan Sunny (Army United), Izwan Mahbud (LionsXII), Hyrulnizam Juma’at (Home United)
Ismadi Mukhtar (Tampines Rovers), Al-Qaasimy Rahman (Courts Young Lions), Baihakki Khaizan (JDT II), Safuwan Baharudin (Melbourne City, on loan from LionsXII), Madhu Mohana (LionsXII), Afiq Yunos (LionsXII), Shakir Hamzah (LionsXII), Shaiful Esah (Tampines Rovers), Hafiz Sujad (LionsXII)
Gabriel Quak (LionsXII), Zulfahmi Arifin (LionsXII), Hariss Harun (JDT I), Shahril Ishak (JDT II), Faris Ramli (LionsXII)
Shahfiq Ghani (LionsXII), Khairul Amri (LionsXII), Sahil Suhaimi (LionsXII)comments