Lunch with... Sahil Suhaimi
After a breakout performance as tournament top scorer at last year's SEA Games, Sahil Suhaimi has continued to impress.
The striker has 9 S.League goals to his name this season, and also made his mark for the Singapore U23s at the recently concluded Asian Games by scoring a quickfire equaliser against Oman.
Name: Sahil Suhaimi
Club: Courts Young Lions
Quick on his feet, with nifty footwork and a powerful shot, Sahil, 22, is slowly making a name for himself.
FFT meets him at Sushi Kanawaza in International Building along Orchard Road.
"I love sushi," Sahil said simply when asked where he wanted to eat earlier. It was his girlfriend, Asyiha Ams, who introduced him to the Japanese dish.
"We were on our first date and she brought me to a sushi parlor, and I guess you could say I have fallen in love ever since.
"Salmon sashimi is my absolute favourite. I treat myself to it at least once a week. Thanks to sushi I have mastered the use of chopsticks."
You can't stop scoring goals. What's your secret?
I work very hard in training. If training is at 6 pm, I will arrive at 5pm, change, gather all the balls and work on my finishing. I started this routine last year and it has paid dividends for me. It improves my confidence to take shots during a game.
You are at the start of your football career. Where do you see yourself in five years?
It's my dream to play abroad, hopefully in Europe. For that to happen I know I need to make a lot of improvements to my game, but you never know. If not Europe, then at least in Thailand, Malaysia, or Indonesia.
There is a rumor flying around that you will be playing for the Lions XII next season? Is there any truth to that?
I have heard the rumor too! But I don't believe it because I have heard nothing from anyone. I will only believe it when the contract is on my table. Right now my focus is on doing well for The Courts Young Lions and for next year my main focus would be on the SEA Games in Singapore.
Would you go for it then, if the Lions XII came knocking on the door?
At this stage of my career, my primary consideration is playing time, and if they can guarantee enough playing minutes to aid my development, why not? Of course, the financial package is also important as I hope to contribute to the household expenses. I come from a single-parent family. My mother has brought up my sister and me by herself since I was three and I really want to lessen my mother's burden.
What's the best goal you have scored this season?
It's got to be the bicycle kick I scored against Woodlands. My back was facing the goal with the ball in air in front of me and I just went for it instinctively. Sometimes they go in.
You have played under many coaches. Was there a coach who stood out for you?
Everyone on my coaches have helped me tremendously in my career. Coach Suriamurthy (U-16) helped me a lot with my finishing and technique. Coach Robin Chitrakar (U18) focused on discipline and taught me what it means to be professional. Coach Aide (Courts Young Lions) is a very good motivator who gives me a lot of confidence.
Who are the players you model your game on?
I love the way Brazilian football legend Romario plays. He's small and fast, like me, but of course I can never be as skilful as him. He doesn't need to train!
In Singapore, the player I look up to the most is Shahril Ishak. Our playing styles are different but everything he has achieved in his career is an inspiration to me.
Who are your best friends in football?
I hang out a lot with Shahfiq Ghani (Lions XII) and Muhaimin Salim (Balestier). We go back a long way. We have known each other since we were 12 and in the same FAS Centre of Excellence team that went to Japan for a tournament.
Sirina Camara from Home United. He is so strong and fast, it takes something special to beat him. Daniel Bennett from Warriors always gives me a hard time. He is very experienced and can read the game very well. He always pulls at my shirt to stop me from speeding off!
Who are your biggest fans?
It has got to be my family - the whole extended family. We are a very close knit family and my aunties and uncles and their children, 15-20 of them will come down to all of my games and they will scream and cheer and shout my name. You can look out for them the next time you go to a game I am involved in. They are impossible to miss!
Sometimes on the field, I can hear them shouting and I will smile to myself. It's a very reassuring feeling. I know that win or lose, they will still be there for me and I am really thankful for them.