Shakir targets strong display to earn left-back slot against Juventus

LionsXII left-back Shakir Hamzah hopes that a good performance against Felda United in the Malaysia Cup will boost his chances of earning a starting spot for the Singapore Selection on Saturday evening.

With the likes of Shaiful Esah and Sirina Camara in the Singapore Selection squad, Shakir acknowledged that he faces tough competition in the fight to face off against Juventus’s Stephan Lichtsteiner.

He was therefore looking forward to put on a good showing to convince Singapore coach Bernd Stange of his abilities as the LionsXII kick off their Malaysia Cup campaign against Felda on Wednesday.

“I have to give my best and show that I really want to be in the team,” he told FourFourTwo after the LionsXII’s pre-match training session on Monday evening.

“It depends on the coach really, but the main thing is that it’s already good to be selected for the team.”

While chasing his personal target of making the starting lineup against Juventus, Shakir has not forgotten the bigger objective of salvaging a poor season for the LionsXII.

“It’s been a tough season for us,” he admitted.

“We’ve not been giving good performance to our fans and our country, so for this Malaysia Cup, we’re looking forward to meeting our goal which is to win all the games and go into the semi-finals.”

While easier said than done, the Malaysia Cup has always been a tricky affair for Singaporean teams.

The last time out, the LionsXII were on the brink of early elimination after getting only a point out of the first three games.

Fortunately they recovered in the nick of time by winning the last three games, which helped them finish runners-up in their group.

“That experience was really tough for us,” Shakir said.

“It’s not easy in the Malaysia Cup because even the division two teams also want to win this tournament.

“This is the only trophy that they can win for their states so that’s why they go all out.

“It was good that we bucked up and won our last three games to qualify, after not performing in the first three.”

After such a harrowing experience last term, he admitted that it is key that the LionsXII get off to a much better start this time round.

“Three out of the first four games will be played at Jalan Besar Stadium,” he pointed out.

“That’s the place where we train every day and we have to win all our home games for sure,” he said.

The clash between the LionsXII and Felda United will kick off at 7.30pm tomorrow at the Jalan Besar Stadium, and the game will be televised on StarHub’s SuperSports Arena (Channel 201).