News Singapore Premier League • October 8, 2014

Ismadi Eyes Spot In Suzuki Cup Squad


Written by: Muhammad Yazid

Tampines Rovers player Ismadi Mukhtar was initially surprised when he earned a call-up to the Singapore squad which is set to face Hong Kong and Macau, but now he has set his eyes on a spot in the starting eleven of the Suzuki Cup squad.

The natural midfielder who is equally talented as a wing-back was ‘utmostly grateful’ for his maiden call-up, and has been enjoying training sessions with the Lions.

“It is indeed a pleasant surprise for me to be called up for the national team at this point of my career,” Ismadi expressed, as he will be set to don the national colours for the first time if selected during matches, at the age of 30.

“For the past three days of training, I have been enjoying the new environment and my new teammates around me.

“Of course to wear the national badge on the kit is a totally different feeling.”

The winger expressed his gratitude to the only two Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League clubs he has ever plied his trade with, Tampines Rovers (from 2010) and Woodlands Wellington (2007-2010).

“In Tampines, the team and my teammates helped me progress and develop into a better player,” he acknowledged.

“Not forgetting my former club Woodlands, where I started off my career as a prime league player. They gave me the platform to introduce myself to the S.League.

“Being a supporter myself since the beginning of the league in 1996, it has always been a dream to play for Woodlands.”

Ismadi has earned three Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League medals in his four years with Tampines, and the tally may be increased at the end of this season if the Stags manage to defend their title.

The 1.69m player mentioned that he had given up on his national team desires prior to the call-up, and felt that it was important for every player to keep a target for himself wherever he plays.

“A player must have his own target in his career, be it starting eleven, to win titles or to perform extremely well hoping to represent the country one day,” Ismadi explained.

“There was always the side of me that aspires for a national call-up. One season after another passed by and that dream started to deteriorate. That was when I told myself to just focus on club football.”

Never did Ismadi know that he will be included in the national team at 30-year-old, but the speedy wide player was still confident in his ability to deliver performances at the highest result.

“Coach Bernd Stange told me the reason he picked me and the plans he has for me,” he shared.

“Being fast, versatile and a workhorse myself, I hope to make my way up into the starting eleven of the Suzuki Cup team.

“Being the most senior by age and uncapped feels a little awkward but I am not just here to make up the numbers. Hopefully my experience in the AFC Cup with Tampines may help me out in regional tournaments like the Suzuki Cup.

“I just have to keep working my socks off in training sessions to make sure I deserve the starting eleven slot. It would be a dream come true.”

Shahdan Sulaiman and Shaiful Esah are the other names from the Tampines dugout to represent the nation, and Ismadi mentioned a few other names which he also thought deserved a call-up, before he ended the interview by crediting the support from loved ones.

“I was pretty sure the last couple of years when Tampines won back to back titles, we had players who were quality candidates for the national team. Jamil Ali and Imran Sahib were two of them who were overlooked to represent the nation.” Ismadi named.

“Well wishes kept pouring in ever since the news came out and a big shout-out of thanks to those who always believed in me, especially my wife Khairun-Nisa for her never ending encouragement and support.”