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 By Kenneth Tan

Khairul Amri, Fazrul Nawaz back for Singapore Asian Cup qualifying

FC's Yasmin Hamid and PJ Roberts preview Singapore's Asian Cup qualifier vs. Turkmenistan and its heavy implications.

Coach V. Sundramoorthy has a wealth of striking options at his disposal as Singapore prepare to host Hong Kong in a friendly on Thursday in preparation for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Turkmenistan on Sep. 5.

The third matchday on the road to the United Arab Emirates sees the Lions at home to the central Asians at Jalan Besar Stadium.

Most significantly, Tampines Rovers' veteran duo of Khairul Amri and Fazrul Nawaz are back in the mix.

Amri, who has 32 goals in 115 caps, missed June's defeats to Chinese Taipei (1-2) and Argentina (0-6) due to an appendicitis problem.

Fazrul, who has 14 in 84 appearances, has received his first call up in more than a year.

Having suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in his left knee last August which saw him miss the subsequent AFF Suzuki Cup, the 32-year-old was laid off for 10 months before returning to action in late June.

Other returning forwards include Shawal Anuar and Sahil Suhaimi.

Shawal, who scored his first international goal in the 2-1 defeat to Afghanistan in March, missed June's games as he recovered from a head injury.

Sahil makes the squad for the first time since the ill-fated Suzuki Cup campaign, in which he was an unused substitute in all three group games. The 25-year-old, who moved to Malaysia Super League side Sarawak earlier this season, scored his first goal in a 3-1 defeat to Johor Darul Ta'zim at Larkin Stadium last month.

It is a stark contrast to the last international window when the Lions only had one recognised forward in the form of Khairul Nizam.

Utility player Safuwan Baharudin was chosen to start up front in the 2-1 home defeat against Chinese Taipei before Nizam got the nod in the 6-0 drubbing by Argentina three days later.

Khairul Amri has scored 32 goals in 115 appearances for Singapore since 2004.

Singapore have struggled to penetrate since Sundramoorthy took over in May 2016, recording a miserly eight goals in 16 official matches.

The current squad of 27 players is expected to be trimmed to a final 23, with an official announcement expected to be made before Thursday's game against Hong Kong.

The Lions are bottom of Group E with one draw and one loss from their opening two matches.

Bahrain, who are top on four points, will play third-placed Chinese Taipei on Sep. 5. If that match is a draw and Singapore win, they could move to second on the table.

Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT

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