Match Previews

Tampines’ Amirul Adli surprised at Singapore exclusion and vows to earn recall

A surprise exclusion from Fandi Ahmad’s first Singapore squad after a standout season, Amirul Adli wants to turn disappointment into strength as he eyes a successful end to the campaign with Tampines Rovers.

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The Stags host Balestier Khalsa at Our Tampines Hub as the Singapore Premier League (SPL) resumes on Saturday evening. Kick-off is at 5.30pm.

Known as a central defender or defensive midfielder during his younger days, Adli has transformed into a box-to-box midfielder with the ability to shoot from range under the tutelage of Jurgen Raab at Tampines – with four goals and two assists this term.

Thus many keen SPL observers were disappointed to see him not included in the latest Singapore squad, including the 22-year-old himself. Nonetheless the youngster is keen to brush that setback aside as he shifts his focus to help Tampines finish the season on a high note.

“To not be in the (Singapore) squad after a good season is definitely disappointing, but at the same time it just shows how much quality there is in the team and that is a very positive thing,” Adli told FOX Sports Asia.

“I’m not worried about it because definitely Coach Fandi (Ahmad) knows what’s best for the team. When the time is right and when he feels I’m ready to be in the team, I’ll make sure I give my best and take the opportunity.

“In the meantime, I’m focused on working harder improving myself and my game play. There are still a lot of things I need to work on. I am more focused on doing well for my team to get the win in these last few games than the call-up. We have to focus one thing at a time and the next thing right now is the upcoming SPL games.”

The Stags face a tough fight to make it into the AFC Champions League (ACL) preliminary round for a fourth straight year as the best-placed local team. They are currently locked on 36 points albeit with a better goal difference with three games left to play.

Next up for Raab’s men is a gritty Balestier side that are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions – including overcoming Geylang International 1-0 over two legs to progress into the Singapore Cup semifinals.

Forward Hazzuwan Halim, who scored the decisive late penalty to defeat the Eagles in the second leg, had more reason to celebrate with the arrival of his baby boy two days after the match.

The first-time father is understandably ecstatic as he looks to continue his good run of form lately. After an uncertain start to the season, he is now churning up good numbers – with five goals and six assists across two competitions.

“I really can’t believe I’m already a father of one child and I feel really blessed with the addition of my baby boy,” said the 24-year-old. “His arrival is definitely going to make me work extra harder to achieve what I want in my football career.

“It’s normal that when you get to play more regularly, your confidence level and form increases. The team and I have been working so hard, that’s why we’re in a better position (sixth) that last year (seventh). We’re confident that we can continue to surprise and for sure, we’re working hard to win the Singapore Cup.”