By Khalis Rifhan
His only piece of international silverware came in 2004, under coach Radojko 'Raddy' Avramovic's first foray into the Tiger Cup, now known as the AFF Suzuki Cup. Although Singapore lifted the trophy on that occasion, goalkeeper Shahril Jantan found himself warming the bench throughout the competition.
Singapore were blessed with an abundance of young talent in the goalkeeping department, with the likes of then-Young Lions duo Hassan Sunny and Lionel Lewis; the latter was awarded the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award after his brilliant performances in the tournament.
Two years prior to that success, Shahril had found himself on the end of attention from media and fans for all the wrong reasons.
Singapore had conceded four goals to arch-rivals Malaysia in the opening match of the Tiger Cup in 2002 at the Kallang Stadium, a game which local football supporters will never forget as they watched the Lions get humiliated at home.
“I bore the brunt of failure because of one game, and I had to live with it for the rest of my live. I felt the effect more after the tournament than during," Shahril recalled.
"Till today, I have never had a chance to redeem myself. That is the only regret I have."
Singapore had beaten Malaysia during a friendly earlier that year and Shahril had a magnificent game then, pulling off crucial save after save in front of a 35,000-strong crowd.
“It was my first international tournament and coach Jan Poulsen selected me as first-choice goalkeeper based on the good season I had for my club (SAFFC), and also based on the international friendlies we had leading up to the Tiger Cup," the 32-year-old explained.
At the young age of 22, Shahril was looking forward to the tournament proper, as well as to make himself and his family proud.
But the script was not written in his favour, as the Lions fell to the Tigers at the first hurdle, Shahril recalled: “I had a good game during the friendly and so for the game in the Tiger Cup against Malaysia, I did not expect much difference. But what could have gone wrong, went wrong for me."
“Yes, I conceded four goals but you cannot blame me for all the goals. It was easy to be made a scapegoat, but I had to swallow it and it was tough.
What made it even tougher was when the press misquoted me by saying I blamed the fans! It was total rubbish, and ridiculous! I fared better in the next two games, but it was too late.”
Singapore lost 4-0 to Jordan in Amman on Wednesday night in the opening match of the AFC Asian Cup 2015 Qualifiers. They will next play Oman in Singapore on August 14.