Shahril Ishak absent, Khairul Amri to lead Singapore line vs. Lebanon
Singapore striker Khairul Amri is expected to lead the Singapore attack in the international friendly against Lebanon at National Stadium on Thursday night.
Coach V. Sundramoorthy will be eyeing a morale-boosting display to go into next Tuesday's must-win Asian Cup home qualifier against Bahrain.
The 32-year-old, who has 32 goals in 118 caps, is the only senior forward in the latest 25-man squad announced by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS). The list will be trimmed down to 23 for the Bahrain game.
Garena Young Lions' Hami Syahin is listed as a forward, but plays primarily as a central midfielder in the S.League for Vincent Subramaniam's side.
The other striking option is Ikhsan Fandi, but the second son of Singapore legendary forward Fandi Ahmad has not been playing regularly after the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in August.
Amri has regained full fitness, and put in some impressive displays as Tampines Rovers secured second spot in the S.League, with a late-season charge.
Sundram has handed recalls to a number of players this time round, with M. Anumanthan, Shawal Anuar, Safirul Sulaiman and Nazrul Nazari returning to the set up.
Reigning S.League Young Player of the Year Anumanthan is now a regular fixture in Home United's engine room after previously missing six months of football due to National Service commitments.
Meanwhile, Geylang International attacker Shawal Anuar is on a hot run of form which saw him plunder eight goals in his last eight outings.
Both make the squad for the first time since March's away internationals against Afghanistan and Bahrain.
Hariss Harun should captain the Lions, with ESPN FC understanding that Shahril Ishak has rejected a call up.
It will be a stern test of Singapore's abilities as they face up to a rising Lebanon side, who are undefeated in their last 11 outings and has risen 48 FIFA places into the world's top 100 since January.
The Cedars have qualified for the 2019 Asian Cup with two group games to spare, trouncing 2010 World Cup finalists North Korea 5-0 in their last outing, and defeating Malaysia 2-1 in June..
In contrast, Singapore haven't won in 11 games since beating Cambodia 1-0 in a pre-AFF Suzuki Cup friendly in November 2016.
"Obviously, looking at this Lebanon team which they said it's their golden generation, it's a good game to test ourselves and try to do some corrections for the Bahrain game," Sundramoorthy told ESPN FC.
"Firstly, the performance is important. If we play the same way as we started in the home games against Hong Kong and Turkmenistan where we got the (1-1) draws where the players fared above expectations, we will get good results."
Singapore squad vs. Lebanon
Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny (Home United), Syazwan Buhari (Geylang International), Zaiful Nizam (Balestier Khalsa)
Defenders: Shannon Stephen, Daniel Bennett, Mustafic Fahrudin, Madhu Mohana (Tampines Rovers), Nazrul Nazari (Hougang United), Emmeric Ong (Warriors FC), Faritz Hameed, Safirul Sulaiman (Geylang), Irfan Fandi (Home)
Midfielders: M. Anumanthan, Hariss Harun, Izzdin Shafiq, Faris Ramli (Home United), Hafiz Sujad, Shahdan Sulaiman (Tampines), Zulfahmi Arifin (Hougang), Safuwan Baharudin, Yasir Hanapi (PDRM FA), Shawal Anuar (Geylang)
Forwards: Khairul Amri, Hami Syahin, Ikhsan Fandi (Garena Young Lions)
*To be trimmed to 23 for Bahrain game
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT