Big Game Scorer Indra Sahdan Daud
Mention the Singapore striker who scored against famous Manchester United, the one who scored a goal which nearly booted Asia powerhouse, Japan, out of World Cup Asian qualifying round, the one who nearly secured a
Mention the Singapore striker who scored against famous Manchester United, the one who scored a goal which nearly booted Asia powerhouse, Japan, out of World Cup Asian qualifying round, the one who nearly secured a contract with a Major League Soccer club… Every local football fan will know him. Junpiter Futbol (JPF) brings you an Exclusive Interview with Indra Sahdan Daud!
JPF: We feel that you are still able to contribute to Singapore NT, so why did you retire from International football so early?
ISD: I had given all my best to the National Team till a stage that I felt that I couldn’t contribute anymore. And also at that point of time, I saw some promising youngsters coming up. So I guess it’s time to give them a chance.
JPF: Do you regret retiring so early?
ISD: No, never. My only regret is not being able to see some of the boys who were very promising then, living up to the expectation. I mean I feel sorry for Khairul Amri for being injured as he is one of those who I really wish to see established in the first team. It was a bit unlucky for him.
photo from sports.xin.msn.com
JPF: We know that you keep all your Singapore jerseys after every International game, was there a time where you exchanged your jersey with someone? Or was there a time you were so tempted to exchange with a player but you didn’t?
ISD: Not at all. I never at any point of my International career felt that I would need to exchange my jersey with anybody. I told myself, this is the jersey which I have worn for the National Team, and no amount of money can buy the same jersey which I’ve worn. (JPF: We understand you didn’t even exchange jersey after scoring in the game against Manchester Utd) Yes, I didn’t. That was the game which I had scored and that (Singapore NT) jersey was the one that I wore. No one else has that jersey, except me!
JPF: Many fans remember Indra Sahdan Daud as a big game player who scored against Man Utd, Japan, Denmark, Uruguay and etc. Which is the best goal you ever scored and why?
ISD: It has to be against Japan in year 2004 where eventually we lost 1-2. You know, if we drew against them, Japan will be out of the World Cup Qualifying Round then. We played extremely well despite the fact that they came with a full team. Unfortunately for us, the Japanese scored their second and winning goal in the final 8mins.
OVERSEAS FOOTBALL EXPERIENCES
JPF: You have trained with Chelsea in 2003 and nearly secured a contract with Real Salt Lake in 2008, which was your best overseas experience?
ISD: The 2-3 weeks one with Real Salt Lake. It was quite a heart-breaker for me as my agent, Dave Roberts, received positive feedback from the club. Then when I was about to return to Singapore, the club invited me to join them for another week to Argentina. I was pretty excited but honestly I didn’t know what happen, it just didn’t work out. Lady luck was just not on my side then.
JPF: What happened to the V-League transfer in 2008?
ISD: My contract with Home Utd back was up and the new contract negotiation was not pretty successful. My agent then arranged a trial for me at Vietnam. I thought to myself “Why not?” and so decided to give it a try. I was there for about a week. As a professional footballer, I have absolutely no issue with the football there but sadly, I am unable to adapt to the food and lodging. They served a lot of pork meals and if I sign with the team, all the players will have to stay together in a barrack! So when I returned, I was kind of worried as I was “club-less”. Eventually, my agent got me a contract with Sengkang Marine FC.
JPF: Having experienced training in an overseas team in Europe and North/South America, do you think Singapore footballers have what it takes to play at the highest level?
ISD: We can. Like what I’ve always shared with the boys; technically we are sound, physically we can be fit and ready, but it is the physical environment which we will have to adapt and acclimatize to. Especially if you are not used to cold climate countries, you can’t even wear your boots because your toes hurt! And if your toes are hurt, how are you supposed to perform? That’s what I have experienced. Next, generally the trial period at the club is about 2 weeks. If you are unable to adapt and acclimatize to the weather within days, you will not be able to perform within that 2 weeks, let alone impress the coaches to sign you. We have to be strong to survive on our own in a foreign country with no families and friends. When you go to a foreign country, you are a foreigner, and as a foreigner, you should not expect to be treated like a local.
photo from sports.xin.msn.com
JPF: What are the factors which are holding Singapore football back to be one of the power houses in Asia in your own opinion?
ISD: We do not have enough new blood (players) coming through. The upbringing and culture here in Singapore is not football-orientated. Parents do not see a prospect in their children playing football in Singapore. I see many good Chinese and Indian players but they are not playing competitively. For that, we are losing a significant pool of talents. To move forward, we will have to improve the image of football and the after football career management, as well as the necessary infrastructure and facilities, such as stadiums. Military service is another major issue which I really hope the authorities can seriously look into.
JPF: We have seen you watching the 24th Canon Lion City Cup matches this year, compared to your time where you lifted the Cup back in 1995, do you see any difference in the playing standard? What’s your thought on this youth football development?
ISD: The teams in this era are getting more attention and exposure playing against top youth teams for sure. However, there isn’t a big difference comparing the current team to my time. At the U-14/16 age group, be it now or then, we can match Juventus U-15, Manchester City U-15 and etc. However the issue now is when our local boys reach 18 years old, the gap between us and the European teams becomes wider.
European boys will grow physically but not our boys. European boys will continue to receive professional training everyday from 14 years old onwards. Even in our Asia context, we can match the Japanese in U-14/16 age group, but we will not be able to match them, the similar players in the U-14/16 age group when all turn 18 years old. For our local boys, 18 years is where most of them will be enlisted into the army too. With this, a proper follow-through is not happening here in Singapore.
photo from sleague.com
JPF: You have partnered so many players in your career, who is your best striking partner? And why?
ISD: Egmar Concalves. He was strong and fast. He didn’t care about scoring; I didn’t care about scoring, so whoever was at the best goal-scoring position, we would pass to him! It turned out that that at the end of the season, we would always have the same goal tally! Most importantly, our understanding on the pitch was excellent. I did not need to see where he was running because I knew he would be there.
JPF: Who is the toughest defender you ever faced in your career so far?
ISD: Razif Mahmud! Seriously, I have not met a really tough foreign defender so far in my career but this is one local player who is tough and intelligent. He knows exactly where to go in (for the tackle) and when not to. There isn’t any tougher defender around in the S-League other than Razif!
JPF: Fandi Ahmad did quote that for a footballer to command a good pay, he has to be a striker, do you agree?
ISD: Yes, that’s it. That’s actually what a team needs – a striker who can keep scoring.
JPF: You were once considered the best striker Singapore has ever produced after Fandi Ahmad, do you think that you are off your peak now?
ISD: I won’t say I’m off my peak. To be exact, I am playing out of position nowadays. Usually, I am an all out striker but now I am playing more to the right or assisting role which I don’t mind. I kind of enjoy my new role now, to be honest. So am I off my peak… I don’t think so. I still have a good 1-2 good years ahead.
JPF: Ever thought of your future after your playing days are over?
ISD: I have not thought about it yet. Now, I am still concentrating on my playing and every year I just want to play my best and contribute to the team. I just want to play as long as possible. (JPF: Play to what age?) I’m giving myself to probably 35 years old!
JPF: Final advice for all JPF readers who aspires to be a good striker like you?
ISD: You have to be well-disciplined, work hard and train hard. There is no short-cut. Most importantly, you must listen to advice. Players like Hariss Harun can go really far because whatever you tell him, he would listen and try to improve. Some younger players think that they know more than you do which is not right.
JPF: Final question… what can I do get one of your Singapore jersey!?
ISD: Haha… Nothing you can do! Haha…