Home United's Shahrin Saberin using S.League to propel Singapore dream
While he is still in shock of becoming a regular starter for Home United, Shahrin Saberin has big plans to fulfil his wish of playing alongside Safuwan Baharudin and Hariss Harun for Singapore.
The former Sports School alumnus had to overcome injuries when he was younger, but the fierce determination and drive that are trademarks of his game, has seen Home coach Philippe Aw reward him with seven appearances in the S.League this year.
"I had a lot of setbacks with injuries that caused me to miss the Youth Olympic Games. It was always centre-back for me but I was played as a central midfielder and sometimes right midfield at Sports School," Shahrin told ESPN FC.
"It never crossed my mind that I'll get to play so many S.League games this year because I was and am still registered to play in the Prime League. But Coach [Aw] promoted me to the first team and all I can keep doing is to repay that faith he has in me."
Shahrin's form has not gone unnoticed, as he was selected to be part of the Sultan of Selangor (SOS) Cup where he started alongside his regular Home defensive partner Abdil Qaiyyim.
The 20-year-old's inexperience on the big stage -- 70,000 fans witnessed the Singapore selection side claim a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Selangor -- saw him earn a red card for a dangerous tackle in the second half.
Despite the unfortunate incident, Shahrin is keen to put that experience to good use for the remainder of the S.League season, starting with Friday's game against Tampines Rovers at Jalan Besar Stadium.
He will have to face ex-Perth Glory striker Billy Mehmet, Jermaine Pennant and Jordan Webb, who have set themselves up as one of the league's top attacking unit under V. Sundramoorthy's charge.
"Playing against him [Patrick Wleh] in the SOS Cup will do me good. I learnt how to handle opponents with that sheer size and strength, and while it was tough, it will put me in a good position to handle similar situations in the future," added Shahrin.
"There hasn't been any easy opponent in the S.League so far. Every striker I mark has a different style and you have to adapt and assess the game as you go along.
"So when we play Tampines this week, I'll stick to the game plan and I truly believe we have what it takes to get three points and put them on the back foot."
While he continues to work his socks off at Bishan Stadium, the no-nonsense defender is hoping the hard work pays off, with a chance to win his first international cap for Singapore.
And when the day comes, he will be looking to do battle alongside two of Singapore's biggest football stars, whom he feels have not only done the country proud, but also set themselves as perfect role models for budding players like himself.
"I don't see myself getting a national team call-up so soon because I'm still learning the ropes. But it all boils down to my performance at Home and if I deserve a spot, then maybe it'll happen," said the defender.
"Should that call-up happen, I cannot wait to play alongside Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin. They are perfect role models for youngsters like myself and to play on the same team as them will be something to look forward to. But for now, Home is my only concern."
Shahrin is likely to partner Abdil in central defence, with Sirina Camara and Juma'at Jantan filling the full-back roles. A win for Home could propel them to third place, behind leaders Albirex Niigata (S) and Tampines.