Singapore forward Sahil Suhaimi looks up to but is keen to avoid comparisons with his boyhood hero, Indra Sahdan Daud.
Former national team captain Indra wrote himself into local folklore with his ability to score against some of the world’s biggest teams like Manchester United, Japan and Uruguay, and is widely regarded as one of Singapore’s best forwards of all time.
His goalscoring exploits in the last decade inspired many young footballers, including a fresh-faced Sahil who was just embarking on a football journey at the Singapore Sports School then.
“Indra’s a person I've looked up to since I was young,” the 22-year-old told FourFourTwo.
“When I was just 10 years old, I remember watching him at Bedok Stadium when he was still playing with Geylang United. I also watched him many times at the old National Stadium and, of course, the most memorable was when he scored against Man United.
“Thus I always wanted to be as good as him.”
Gaining a call-up to the national team for the first time last year, Sahil got the opportunity to shadow the legendary forward when the latter was temporarily recalled to the team by coach Bernd Stange.
“I trained with Indra in a couple of training sessions,” shared the Courts Young Lions forward.
“Of course I took the opportunity to study how he plays. You can see he is a serious figure even during training. He showed that he can do anything. He knows when to shoot, where to shoot, when to pass and how to make space.”
With that said, Sahil is keen not not only to emulate Indra.
“Singapore has a lot of legendary strikers – other than Indra, there is [Noh] Alam Shah and [Ahmad] Latiff,” the youngster, who was part of the Singapore Under-23 side that won the Bronze medal at the 2013 SEA Games, continued.
“I can learn a bit from everyone and I don’t want to just ‘copy-paste’ from Indra. Instead of being the next Indra, I want to be the first Sahil.
“I want to carve out my own style and inspire people in the future.”
After a strong season which saw him plunder 10 goals and earn a Young Player of the Year nomination, the precocious Sahil is now raring for his AFF Suzuki Cup debut.
While admitting there is still room for improvement, he believes that he has developed enough to lead the line for the Lions.
“The only thing I need to improve on now is perhaps my finishing,” said the man who has netted one goal in 10 international appearances thus far.
“Otherwise I’ve been able to make the runs and find space in attack. I’ve been playing alone upfront since my NFA [National Football Academy] days and I can cope with that.
“Since I’m small and can’t utilise my body, I run into space and in behind defenders.”
Sahil and the rest of the Lions will take on Thailand in their AFF Suzuki Cup opener at the Singapore Sports Hub on Sunday.
Photo credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwocomments