Photos by Great Eastern Yeos’ S-League Facebook page
By Daniel Fadhil
When Syaqir Sulaiman headed home an-all important goal for Hougang in the 41st minute, it was only his 2nd competitive goal for Hougang in nineteen months, and his first league goal for Hougang.
The last goal Syaqir scored was in July 2011, in similar fashion, he headed home an all-important equalizer against Albirex Niigata in a Singapore Cup Semi Final fixture.
The Sports Science undergraduate from NTU had come a long way since his move to the Northeast in 2011. Back in the days where he played football for Balestier Khalsa, he was a utilityman, often playing in the wings in midfield. However, at Hougang, he had to play a stop gap measure in defence, as the Cheetahs then had not have enough defenders at that time.
However, with the suspension of then Hougang captain Shariff Abdul Samat and Fathi Yunus, for their role in the Etoile melee in May 2011, he had to cover a stop gap measure at the heart of the defence and played throughout the entire dream run in the League Cup, when they finished runners’ up to eventual winners Albirex Niigata. However, his talents had already been seen by the Hougang faithfuls and they have started singing his name.
Even with the showing of his scintillating form in 2011, with the departures of Ratna and Shariff, he still could not cement his place in the starting line up, as Nenad Bacina preferred Stanislav Vidakovic and the young mecurial Hasree Zais in defence. However, with the long term injury of Stanislav Vidakovic, did he stepped up to the challenge. His tenaciousness in defence had given Hougang a 9-game unbeaten run in the league, stretching for five months, and Hougang ending the season on eighth.
On Wednesday, he again started the season in great style, keeping the defence at bay and preventing exciting youngsters like Sahil Suhaimi and M Arumanthan from breaching the Cheetahs’ defence and marshalling a tight control of constant bombardment in the second half. In attack, he himself almost had two goals to his name, if only he had headed the ball towards the goal late in the game.
These days, Syaqir is well known in the Malay community as an exemplary student and professional footballer who had sacrificed his time for studies and his passion for football. Lets hope the National team selection committee will give him the opportunity to done the red jersey of the Lions one day.