Hungry talents and reborn stars: Who should be Singapore's starters at the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup?
Goalkeeper: Hassan Sunny
It’s always a tough call to decide who go in between the sticks for Singapore, but Hassan just shades it for us at the moment due to his imperious form for Army United in the Thai Premier League.
The 32-year-old has been going from strength to strength, keeping three clean sheets in his last five outings – one of them coming in the memorable 1-0 away victory at defending champions Buriram United.
Hassan’s massive presence in the 18-yard box is a real advantage, especially at the Southeast Asian level where there are not many big target men to face up against.
Right-back: Juma’at Jantan
There are a number of quality right backs at Sundram’s disposal, but none have the massive amount of experience and know-how that Juma’at possess.
The 32-year-old is a seasoned campaigner, who has played in a number of domestic cup finals as well as several high-profile matches for the national team.
As seen from his all-action displays over the last couple of seasons – constantly overlapping without neglecting his defensive duties - Juma’at is still a mean machine.
Should the Home United skipper recover from his latest injury setback, he ought to be a starter.
Centre-back: Abdil Qaiyyim
If there is a list of top-performing centre backs in the S.League over the past year, Abdil is definitely somewhere near the top.
The 27-year-old has cut out the silly errors that plagued his game earlier in his career and is displaying much improvement in his concentration levels, with Home coach Philippe Aw entrusting him to lead their young backline.
Abdil is also no spring chicken, considering that he has played in the S.League for a number of years now. International football is obviously a level higher, but he does look like he’s ready to make the step up.
Centre-back: Daniel Bennett
Okay, he’s 38 now. But if he is still producing the goods, why should he denied a call-up?
Moving to Geylang International has visibly resurrected Bennett’s career as the veteran centre-back is now rolling back the years with a series of impressive displays. While he has obviously lost a yard or two, he more than makes up for it with his positional sense and ability to dominate the air.
Having amassed 128 international caps and being at the heart of three previous Suzuki Cup triumphs, Bennett’s big-game experience will definitely come in handy.
Left-back: Hafiz Sujad
There are not many better choices than Hafiz at left back at the moment. The 25-year-old has kept up his consistency since joining Tampines Rovers from the LionsXII, putting in the miles to bomb up and down the left channel.
His versatility is also an asset to the national team, as he is also capable of filling in on the left side of midfield if needed. Of course his ability to strike belters from distance also helps his cause.