National Team - Lions ● Oct 15, 2018

Iqbal finally makes home debut, ready to take Lions chance


SINGAPORE, 15 OCTOBER 2018 – As the National Team steps up its preparations for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2018, Head Coach Fandi Ahmad is still considering several options for the attacking midfielder role behind the striker.


Prior to Singapore’s clash with Mongolia last Friday, he mentioned that “three or four players” are in contention for the number ten role.


One of those is Iqbal Hussain, who did his chances no harm in the subsequent 2-0 friendly win at Bishan Stadium.


The Hougang United FC attacker had several chances throughout the 71 minutes he was on the pitch and was unlucky to not score his first international goal, with a couple of well-taken efforts narrowly going wide. The 25-year-old was also often able to find space in the centre of the park and was a threat from his set-piece deliveries.


Satisfied with his overall performance in his first appearance for the Lions since October 2016, Iqbal told the FAS website after the game: “It was a great game. It’s been a while since I’ve played for the National Team and to be given a chance from Coach Fandi is a privilege. I just want to do my best every time when I get a chance.”


Iqbal has been unfortunate with his National Team career so far, with injuries and competition for places not working in his favour on several occasions. He was overlooked for selection for the previous two editions of the AFF Suzuki Cup and was a last-minute omission from the 2015 SEA (South East Asian) Games. Before the game against Mongolia, all three of Iqbal’s previous caps came in away fixtures.


He almost had his chance to make his home debut last month, as he was in the squad for the previous round of friendly fixtures against Mauritius and Fiji. However, he had to withdraw from the squad before the match against Fiji due to injury.


This meant that his long awaited home debut for the National Team had to wait until Friday night – a moment that he will remember for life.


“It feels nice as my parents and my friends have all been waiting to see me don the National Team jersey,” he said. “I tried to do it for the past few years but I never managed to because of NS (National Service commitments) and not getting picked for the 2015 SEA Games. So now I just want to do my best every time I get the chance to play for the country.”


Having done his best to impress Fandi, Iqbal will get another opportunity to shine against Cambodia tomorrow night as he eyes a place in the 23-man squad for the Suzuki Cup.


Having trained with many of the players over the past week, Iqbal believes that the squad has the potential to go far in the tournament.


“I mean we have a good batch of seniors – like Safuwan (Bahrudin) and Bai (Baihakki Khaizan). I try to learn as much as I can from them,” he said. “Hopefully with our teamwork and spirit we can win the Suzuki cup.”