Scoring against Spurs ‘one of the best moments’ of Shawal Anuar’s career
Before Wednesday’s match against Tottenham Hotspur, Lion City Sailors winger Maxime Lestienne had told teammate Shawal Anuar to make his runs in the box, promising that “my ball will find you”.
The Belgian duly kept his word as he delivered a peach of a pass for Shawal to score and give the Singapore Premier League club an early lead in their clash with the English Premier League side at the National Stadium.
Although the Sailors eventually lost 5-1, Shawal had written his name in the history books and given the Sailors fans among the 25,095 spectators lots to cheer about.
Calling the goal the highlight of his career, the Singapore international said: “It’s a happy feeling for me, one of the best moments for me in my career to score against a big team like this.
“Before the game and before every game, Max will tell me to just run, my ball will find you, so I made the run and it so happened that the ball fell in front of me and I scored the goal.
“I was so happy and when the crowd cheered, I couldn’t hear and my ears were blocked.”
Lestienne added: “In training, the coach asks me to play a little bit more inside and try to find Shawal because we know Shawal is very fast and he can go behind the defence.
“I really have a good connection with Shawal because I know where he wants to run and I know he will make the run.
“I’m not surprised by this goal... and I’m very happy for him because he deserves it.”
It was only as the 32-year-old was heading into the dressing room at half-time that he was told he had emulated former Singapore international Samawira Basri’s feat of scoring against Spurs.
Samawira’s goal had come during the north London club’s friendly with the Singapore national team in 1995, which ended in 1-1 draw in front of a 60,000 crowd at the old National Stadium. The Lions went on to win 4-2 on penalties.
The goal is a timely boost for Shawal, who had started only once in the Sailors’ first nine league games.
He said: “I will try to keep my consistency every game and play what the coach wants. If I have the opportunity to play and score goals, I will definitely put the ball in the net so I’m just building up my momentum.
“Maybe this will build my confidence and the team’s confidence like how we’re going to play and now we have to switch our focus back on the league as a team.”
The friendly against Spurs was also good preparation for the Sailors, whose Asian Champions League campaign kicks off in August, giving the team a chance to field new signings Rui Pires, Bailey Wright and Richairo Zivkovic.
Shawal said: “This is very important – playing with all the foreign players and how we gel with each other and also help each other from the defence, midfield to attackers to keepers. This game is important to work something out before the Champions League.”