By Kenneth Tan/Red Sports
Shahril Ishak (Home United, #17) seen here in a clash against SAFFC last season. The national team midfielder has left the club to join Indonesia’s Persib Bandung. (Photo © Vanessa Lim/Red Sports archive)
Tampines Stadium, Tuesday, September 21, 2010 — By the time you read this article, national team skipper Shahril Ishak would have boarded the plane to Indonesia to join up with his new club Persib Bandung.
However he still had an unfinished task back here in Singapore – to help his club win the S.League title. In his last 90 minutes as a Home United player, the 26-year-old did his utmost best to make that possible by playing a starring role in a 3-0 thrashing of title rivals Tampines Rovers.
His farewell goal to Singapore football came in the 44th minute when he intercepted a misplaced pass just inside the Tampines half. With three defenders still to beat, he bamboozled all of them and fired a low left-footed shot just inside Hassan Sunny’s near post.
That increased Home’s lead to a morale-boosting 2-0 just before half time.
Seven minutes earlier, he was also involved in Home’s opening goal by producing a teasing right-wing cross into the Tampines box which was only half-cleared and eventually turned in by Korean forward Jun Woo Keun.
The 3-0 routing was completed in the 67th minute when substitute Sufian Anuar thumped home a Jun left-wing cross.
The victory meant Home temporarily go to the top of the S.League standings with 62 points, one point above French newcomers Etoile FC and two points above Tampines, with only three remaining games for the 2010 season.
According to Home team manager S Mahalingam, the club was approached by Persib three weeks ago regarding their interest in Shahril but the idea was initially brushed off.
“They came up with an offer which we studied and presented at our management committee meeting on 6th September. However they did not allow him to go then and told me to do whatever within my limitations to retain him by giving him an offer he can’t resist,” he said.
Despite being offered a salary that was the highest among any Home United players for next season, Shahril decided to leave in order to further his footballing education.
“He told us he wants to go overseas and develop further since he’s already 26, so I went back to my chairman to discuss the situation,” he elaborated.
Persib officials paid a visit to Singapore for further negotiations last week and eventually the transfer was completed after both clubs agreed on an undisclosed transfer fee.
Despite his goalscoring exploits in his final match, Shahril looked calm when facing the media thereafter.
“It was wonderful for me to score but what’s more important is the three points. I’m happy for myself and also for the club as I got to score a goal for them before I leave. When I scored and we got 2-0 up, I know we can win the game and take three points from here,” he commented.
However he gave a slight hint that this would not be the last time we see him don a Home United jersey.
“I wish them (Home United) all the best for the title race and the future. If I were to come back, Home United is my first priority,” he said as parting words to the club and the S.League.
National teammate Shi Jiayi will now replace Shahril as the new Home United skipper.
We at Red Sports wish Shahril all the best for his endeavours in Indonesia!