Shahril joining Johor FA: Crown Prince

Published: 4:02 AM, October 28, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, October 29, 2013

SINGAPORE — It looks like LionsXII skipper Shahril Ishak will join Malaysian Premier League side Johor FA and play in the second-tier of the Malaysian football league next season.

At a press conference yesterday in Johor Baru, Johor Football Association President Ismail Idris, who is also the Crown Prince of Johor, announced that the 29-year-old striker will be meeting him next week to put pen to paper.

“Shahril will be signing the contract next week,” he said. “His dedication and determination are why we want him to join us next season. He will be a role model, a source of inspiration and an icon to the younger players in the Johor FA team.”

The announcement means that two LionsXII players will be plying their trade with Johor FA next season. Defender Baihakki Khaizan is believed to have already signed with the club although the 29-year-old has so far declined comment whenever he is asked about it.

When contacted yesterday, Shahril told TODAY that he is still considering offers from several clubs. “The truth is I haven’t put my signature on any contract,” he said.

Johor FA sources say that the duo have been advised to keep mum about their moves until they are officially unveiled by the club.

Meanwhile, Football Association of Singapore (FAS) President Zainudin Nordin said yesterday that the national Under-23 team’s target of reaching the South-east Asian Games final in December remains despite the loss of V Sundramoorthy as their head coach.

This is because he believes that the current 30-strong provisional squad — made up of players from the LionsXII and the Courts Young Lions — is “one of the best in Singapore’s history”.

“This team is looking very strong … possibly the best we have seen so far,” he said during the FAS’ Appreciation Lunch for its outgoing council members and LionsXII fans. “We want to arrive at the finals this year and once we reach there, anything can happen.”

Zainudin added that the exposure that the LionsXII have gained from playing in this season’s Malaysian Super League has been critical for their SEA Games preparations.

“They were playing MSL matches every week, sometimes in front of capacity crowds and in hostile environments,” he said.

“They are strong mentally, which is important for the SEA Games and they have a target to aim for. I am confident of them.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FELICIA QUICK