FFT's potential Singapore starting XI to face Afghanistan

This is a chance for Singapore to start afresh after a disappointing Suzuki Cup campaign the last time round. Will V Sundramoorthy stick to his usual guns or go with a few fresh faces? We try our luck at predicting his lineup against Afghanistan...  

Goalkeeper: Hassan Sunny

As usual, we should expect Hassan getting the nod over Izwan Mahbud for the spot in between the sticks.

The 32-year-old has done well since returning from his two-year stint in Thailand, excelling for new club Home United with a standout performance in the 3-1 away win against Brunei DPMM where he made several saves to keep the hosts at bay.

Right-Back: Nazrul Nazari

Singapore XI in previous game

  • GK: Hassan Sunny
  • LB: Faritz Hameed 
  • CB: Madhu Mohana
  • CB: Daniel Bennett
  • RB: Shakir Hamzah
  • DM: M. Anumanthan
  • CM: Hariss Harun
  • RW: Yasir Hanapi
  • AM: Safuwan Baharudin
  • LW: Faris Ramli
  • FW: Khairul Amri

Faritz Hameed was  the first choice in this position throughout the Suzuki Cup campaign, but Sundram may be tempted to try out a different player this time round.

Nazrul is certainly no spring chicken at this level, having played 17 times for the country including being a starter in that famous 0-0 away draw against Japan in 2015.

The 26-year-old has stamina in abundance, having played in every minute of Hougang United's three games so far this season.

Centre-Back: Madhu Mohana

Ever-present through the Suzuki Cup, Madhu is expected to retain his spot in the heart of defence.

Sundram is visibly a fan of the 26-year-old's aggressive defending style and aerial ability, so he should be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Entrusted with the Tampines Rovers captaincy this season should help him to mature at this level further...

Centre-Back: Daniel Bennett

It will be interesting to see who Sundram opts for alongside Madhu, but we suspect it should be club teammate Bennett being favoured over the likes of Mustafic Fahrudin and Irfan Fandi.

The 39-year-old has 132 caps and had done well in the Suzuki Cup, but question marks remain over his ability to cope with the rigours at the highest level.

This game should give us some clue as to whether he is here to stay or join Baihakki Khaizan in being left out for selection...

Left-Back: Juma'at Jantan

As much as we hope to see new boy Ho Wai Loon being given a start, Sundram is likely to go for the tried and trusted option of the experienced Juma'at.

The long-serving Home United player played as an unorthodox right winger in the Suzuki Cup, but should be returning to a defensive position and be deployed at his regular left-back position.

Centre Midfield: Hariss Harun

He has not played a single minute since November 25, but the de-facto Singapore captain is still expected to be a starter more than anything else.

Sundram should view this game as the perfect opportunity for the 26-year-old to get back his match fitness, with a much-fitter Hariss only going to benefit the Lions as they gear up for the important Asian Cup qualifier away against Bahrain.

Centre Midfield: M.Anumanthan

Playing against what should be aggressive opponents, the robust Anumanthan should be preferred over the more stylish Izzdin Shafiq.

The 22-year-old has managed to build on from a strong 2016 where he was named the S.League's 2016 Young Player of the Year and became an ever-present in the Suzuki Cup campaign.

He has been playing as part of a three-man defence or in the heart of midfield for Hougang United — doing well in both positions.

Right Winger: Yasir Hanapi

There are options like Shawal Anuar and Khairul Nizam, but based on previous games, we think that Sundram will choose to deploy Yasir in this position.

The 27-year-old is a real workhorse down the right channel, ever willing to drop back in defence to help out while pushing forward to provide ammunition to the forwards when the opportunity arises.

Left Winger: Faris Ramli

Based on current form, there is simply no reason to leave Faris out of the starting XI.

The 24-year-old has managed to put a poor 2016 behind him, with five goals and three assists in six games across two competitions so far.

The Home United man's pace and trickery on the ball gives the Lions some much-needed bite in the attacking third, especially important when they are expected to play a counter-attacking game.

Attacking Midfield: Safuwan Baharudin

He did not exactly set the world alight at the Suzuki Cup, but Safuwan is still one of the most complete players which Sundram has at his disposal at the moment.

Deploying him at no. 10 has had mixed success so far, but his ability to hold up and knock on long balls should keep him in the starting line-up.

If it does not work out, he can always drop deeper into midfield or be replaced by Nizam in the second half.

Forward: Khairul Amri

There are only three certainties in life — death, taxes and Amri starting upfront for Singapore (when he's fit of course).

Unlike last season, the 32-year-old has been pretty much injury-free so far and that should bode well for the Lions. Even when he is not getting into scoring positions, he contributes a lot by working the channels and setting up the other attackers.

Of course, he has a penchant for the spectacular as well - as seen in the acrobatic overhead kick against Indonesia in the Suzuki Cup.

Photos: FAS