Ridhuan: SOS Cup brings back memories of playing in front of big crowds

Geylang International captain Ridhuan Muhammad is looking forward to play in front of a large boisterous crowd again after being handed his first-ever Sultan of Selangor’s (SOS) Cup call-up.

Ridhuan had spent four years playing in Indonesia before returning to Singapore at the start of this season where he signed for Geylang.

The former Arema Indonesia winger believes tonight’s game against the Selangor Selection side will bring back some good memories of the time where he truly enjoyed the fans’ adulation.

“All footballers, not just Singaporeans, want to play in front of a big crowd and a full stadium,” he told FourFourTwo on Friday evening.  

“It gives me the extra boost and energy to push on. The support from the Indonesians was really crazy and fanatic; especially with the drums and the flags they make. If I’m not wrong, the biggest crowd which I’ve played in front of is around 90,000.”

With an expected crowd of at least 60,000 at the Stadium Shah Alam tonight, Ridhuan believes that it is a rare opportunity for him and the Singapore Selection side to show their mettle.

“It’s a great opportunity to show how matured my football has become since I’ve played in Indonesia,” said the 30-year-old.

“Even though most of the fans that will be present are not our fans, it’s still important to play good football as we’re representing Singapore and the S.League. It’ll be good if we can keep them quiet.”

Playing in Indonesia was however not the first time which Ridhuan has experienced playing in front of big crowds.

Back in 2006, the then 22-year-old led the Young Lions to the Malaysian FA Cup semi-finals where they lost to Perlis over a two-legged affair.

Recalling the memories of that miraculous run, Ridhuan admits that he missed playing alongside the likes of Hassan Sunny, Shahril Ishak and Baihaki Khaizan.

The quartet was once dubbed as the “NFA (National Football Academy) Gang of Four’ and recognized as one of the brightest talents of Singapore football when they briefly burst onto the scene into the 2000s.

“It’s been some time since I played with them,” he said.

“I’ve played with them from a young age and went through the NFA together. After four years away and not being called up to the national team, I think it’s a big miss for me.

“I’ve always loved donning my national jersey in front of the big crowds. However in life, everything happen for a reason and each person have their own destiny.”

With national team coach Bernd Stange emphasizing on youth development, it seems Ridhuan has little chance of returning to the national fold as he shifts his focus to prolong his career.

“As long as I can keep myself fit, I hope I can play on like how (Aleksandar) Duric did!”

*The game between the Selangor Selection and the Singapore Selection will kick off at 9pm at Stadium Shah Alam, Kuala Lumpur.