Suzuki Cup: Worst night of my career, says Shahril

He has played in six ASEAN Football Federation championships, won three titles and was crowned Most Valuable Player in 2012, when he led the Lions to an unprecedented fourth regional title.

As Singapore skipper and a national footballer with 120 caps, Shahril Ishak has experienced many highs and lows.

But the 30-year-old was absolutely gutted to see his Lions lose 3-1 to archrivals Malaysia in the first Causeway Derby at the National Stadium and crash out of the Suzuki Cup at the first hurdle as defending champions.

"It's the worst night of my career," Shahril said after seeing it all unravel with two late Malaysian goals.

"I'm so disappointed, and so are my family, friends, fans and, I'm sure, all Singaporeans. We gave our best, and tried so hard to get an equaliser.

"When we got the goal, we were still playing positive football. I think we did reasonably well throughout with an all-local team with many younger players.

"We wanted to go through, but I don't think we were complacent to think we had it in the bag because we wanted another goal to make the result safe.

"And then came the shock. I don't think it was a penalty. Amri Yahyah wasn't going to get to the ball, and no Malaysians argued for a penalty. Everyone thought it was a goal-kick.

"It is so painful to go out this way."

Shahril was the hero the last time both teams met at the last Suzuki Cup, when he scored a double as Singapore won 3-0 at Bukit Jalil.

But this time, he had to sacrifice his attacking instincts to help out with the defence.

National coach Bernd Stange hinted it could be the last Suzuki Cup for senior players like Hassan Sunny, Baihakki Khaizan and Shahril, given his emphasis on youth.

But Shahril hopes he can still have another shot at righting this wrong.

"I'm not sure if this will be my last tournament. I can only do my best for my club and it's up to the national coach to decide if I'm good enough.

"I don't want to end my national team career on a terrible low like this."

This article was first published on November 30, 2014.
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