Irfan and Ihsan have established themselves as key players for the club and national team.

The brothers, aged 25 and 23, both play for Thailand’s top team BG Pathum United and recently became the first Singaporeans to reach the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League.

“(I) just want to keep making a name for my family. Iksan, Irfan are doing well, so I want to keep doing that.”

And Ihsan, a striker, is one of the people Ilhan seeks advice from. “He’ll try to look at me or he’ll try to look at the highlights or something. He’ll say, ‘How was your run today… how can I improve?'” Ilhan explained.

In an international friendly against Malaysia in March, Irfan and Iksan started for Singapore, the latter scoring twice. Later in the game, Ilhan came off the bench and played up front with Iksan.

Ilhan said being able to wear the Lions jersey together was something the two had discussed when they were kids.

“Even before I made it to the national team, (Ihsan would say): ‘If you make it to the national team, imagine I’ve partnered with you,'” he explained.

For now, Ilhan has his sights set on getting more minutes and starting consistently for the Lions.

“My goal, of course, is to play for the national team. My partner Iksan may come out on top, but I don’t know. It will be a difficult challenge to fight him for the position of striker. I know brothers are brothers, but we have to fight for our position on the pitch,” Ilhan said.

out of his comfort zone

A move to Albirex has been something Ilhan has been thinking about for a long time. But in the end, he explained, it was “the best option.”

“I wanted to test myself and get out of my comfort zone because I felt a little too comfortable with Young Lions. I thought what they wanted to do and how they wanted to help me matched what I wanted to do,” he explained.

Given that he hopes to one day play abroad, it was important for Ilhan to learn how to adapt to the new environment.

“Wherever you go in Europe or the world, you’re not used to the environment and things like that, so it’s going to be similar,” he explained.

However, despite his new surroundings, Ilhan has been accepted with open arms during his time at the White Swans.

“I am enjoying my time here. , I’m clicking with everyone,” he pointed out.

“I think what we do off the pitch affects what we do on the pitch.”

Ilhan believes he has developed as a footballer and professionally during his short time at the club so far.

“[Being here]I was able to add in some areas that I didn’t think I had, like running from behind. I used to just want to play, but now it’s a little bit different, knowing a little more about the role of a striker,” he said.

“I’ve been working on these crooked runs. And I think it’s worked very well for me, but there’s still a long way to go.”

Scoring goals is important, but Ilhan is focused on putting in good performances.

He scored a stunning hat-trick, including an acrobatic bicycle kick, against Balestier Khalsa earlier this season. Most people would have been happy with a matchball, but Ilhan was not.

“I was really happy to get a hat-trick or something like that, but at the same time I felt the game. I could,” he explained.

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