By Les Tan

With the national football squad trimmed from the provisional 30 to a confirmed 22 players, the race is on to see who will get a place in the starting XI.

Last night’s 2-2 draw with Vietnam saw unlimited substitutions and national football coach Raddy Avramovic took the opportunity to give as many players a run out as possible.

He started the game with a striking pair of Noh Alam Shah and Agu Casmir with Indra in a slightly withdrawn role on the right. However, the strikeforce did not produce any meaningful threat in the first half with Agu Casmir getting the best chance from a Noh Alam Shah layoff but the Vietnamese defender charged him down in the box to deflect the ball out.

Alam Shah though showed why his presence was missed during his seven-month ban. His challenges were always full-blooded and opposing defenders had to get rid of the ball quick.

Shi Jiayi showed why he is a definite starter. He managed to swing across a pinpoint 40m cross field pass from the right flank for an unmarked John Wilkinson to score with a header. It was a cross of great quality matched by the confident finish of Wilkinson who should also be a starter.

Mustafic Fahrudin had a consistent, performance in the middle of the park, his bigger physical presence always meant he was never at a disadvantage against the smaller Vietnamese.

Defender Noh Rahman would have done himself no favours with his indiscipline when he gave away the needless penalty for Vietnam to equalise immediately after Wilkinson had gone ahead.

His fellow defender Precious Emuejeraye had a calamitous moment of defending at the start of the second half but Baihakki Kaizan and Daniel Bennett gave a more reassuring, consistent performance throughout the game.

In the second half, Aleksandar Duric came on for Indra and he created the second goal for Agu with an intelligent play in the box. He created space for himself and had a clear shot at goal which the keeper saved smartly.

Duric then chased down the rebound and swung it back in for Agu who couldn’t miss from within the six-yard box with a header. Duric, with his imposing physical presence, could hold up the ball and make space for himself and play teammates into space. He should be a starter in Jakarta.

The Agu-Duric combination looked the better pair than the Alam Shah-Agu combination in the first half. It remains to be seen if Duric will be played in tandem with Noh Alam Shah and whether Indra will continue in his new right flank role.


Who do you think should be in the starting XI? You have 11 votes.

Who should be in the first XI for the national football team?

  • Daniel Bennett (DF, SAFFC) (9%, 241 Votes)
  • Shi Jiayi (MF, Home United) (8%, 225 Votes)
  • John Wilkinson (MF, SAFFC) (8%, 218 Votes)
  • Lionel Lewis (GK, Home United) (7%, 207 Votes)
  • Mustafic Fahrudin (MF, Tampines Rovers) (7%, 206 Votes)
  • Noh Alam Shah (FW, Tampines Rovers) (7%, 200 Votes)
  • Baihakki Khaizan (DF, Geylang United) (7%, 194 Votes)
  • Aleksandar Duric (FW, SAFFC) (6%, 180 Votes)
  • Indra Sahdan Daud (FW, Home United) (6%, 165 Votes)
  • Precious Emuejeraye (DF, Gombak United) (6%, 156 Votes)
  • Noh Rahman (DF, Geylang United) (5%, 146 Votes)
  • Shahril Ishak (MF, Home United) (5%, 138 Votes)
  • Agu Casmir (FW, Gombak United) (5%, 128 Votes)
  • Muhammad Ridhuan (MF, Tampines Rovers) (4%, 107 Votes)
  • Shaiful Esah (DF, SAFFC) (3%, 70 Votes)
  • Hassan Sunny (GK, Tampines Rovers) (2%, 67 Votes)
  • Isa Halim (MF, Young Lions) (2%, 56 Votes)
  • Juma'at Jantan (DF, Home United) (1%, 33 Votes)
  • Ismail Yunos (DF, Young Lions) (1%, 29 Votes)
  • Mustaqim Manzur (FW, SAFFC) (1%, 18 Votes)
  • Rosman Sulaiman (DF, Home United) (0%, 11 Votes)
  • Hyrulnizam Juma'at (GK, Young Lions) (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 327

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