Singapore skipper Shahril Ishak will continue to play across the Causeway after signing a one-year contract extension with Malaysian Premier League (MPL) side Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) II.
The 31-year-old confirmed the news with The New Paper after putting pen to paper in Johor yesterday.
He said: "It's an honour and privilege and I'm happy that the boss (JDT patron Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim) believes in me and that the club think I'm good enough to help develop the young Johor players.
"We will have a young team for next season.
"I treat them all like my younger brothers and I hope to help them impress the management enough to be promoted to JDT I.
"We finished fifth last season and we want to improve on that.
"Of course, we want to do well in the league and at least qualify for the Malaysia Cup."
After parting ways with Nenad Bacina, JDT II have installed Mexican Benjamin Mora as the new head coach.
He will "be assisted by Borussia Dortmund coaches to develop and train young players as part of the state football development programme", according to the club's website.
It added: "The priority set by the coach is such that JDT II will be the foundation for developing young players, where only four or five senior players will remain to guide and share their experience and skills with the younger players."
Despite playing in the second-tier of the Malaysian league, Shahril believes he is still good enough to make an impact with the national team.
With German Bernd Stange at the helm of the Lions, Shahril has not completed the full 90 minutes for Singapore in their last 10 internationals, and was an unused substitute for the recent World Cup/Asian Cup Group E qualifiers against Japan and Syria.
"If you watch the MPL, you will know that it is just as competitive as the MSL," said Shahril who, with 131 national caps (and 13 goals), is ASEAN's most-capped player along with Thai legend Kiatisuk Senamuang.
"Just look at Kedah, who were the MPL champions and they went all the way to the Malaysia Cup final.
"They beat MSL teams like the LionsXII, Terengganu and Felda United to get there, and we had beaten them twice this season in cup competitions.
"So it's all about the mindset. Second division does not necessary mean it's not as tough and the footballers playing there are not good enough.
"I'm a professional footballer. I'll continue to keep myself fit, give of my best and play well.
"It's up to the coaches to decide whether to play me or not, but at least I know I will have done my part.
Compatriot and centre back Baihakki Khaizan will also be part of JDT II's plans as he enters the final term of his three-year deal.
In all, four of Singapore's top footballers will be plying their trade in Malaysia next season, after TNP had earlier reported that midfielder Hariss Harun signed a two-year deal with JDT I with the option of another two-year extension.
Fellow midfield star Safuwan Baharudin has also agreed terms with MSL club PDRM FA, as they finalise the year-long loan deal with the Football Association of Singapore.
We will have a young team for next season. I treat them all like my younger brothers and I hope to help them impress the management enough to be promoted to JDT.
- Shahril Ishak
This article was first published on December 24, 2015.
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