Noh-Isa combo the new midfield shield

SINGAPORE - Clad in a red tracksuit top at the check-in counter at Changi Airport's Terminal One, Noh Rahman stood out.

Just recalled into the Lions' fold, the 32-year-old cut a proud, happy and excited figure.

Part of a 21-man Singapore squad that left for Manama, Bahrain via Dubai last night, he also couldn't help but feel a strong sense of deja vu.

The last time he travelled with the Lions was in November 2011.

The opponents then were Jordan. The team they will face again next Wednesday, in their opening Group A fixture of the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers.

And Noh will be thrown straight into the fray.

With the much-vaunted tandem of Mustafic Fahrudin and Hariss Harun missing through injury, coach V Sundramoorthy will field Isa Halim and Noh as his two central defensive midfielders for the game.

It is a truly tough assignment against one of the risning powers in the Middle East, but Sundram was positive about the pair.

He said: "I've always rated Noh as one of the best players in the S-League over the last few years.

"Even at his age, he can still contribute. Some might say he has slowed down a bit. But, based on what I saw in training the last two days, he was as fast as anyone.

"Mustafic's (groin) injury is a blow and he will be hard to replace, but we have to find a solution... Noh's experience is what the team need."

Singapore, fresh off their AFF Suzuki Cup triumph last month, will face Bahrain in a friendly today before their clash with Jordan in Amman.

Noh was looking forward to the upcoming battles.

"It feels good to be here," he told The New Paper.

"But, like I've said the last couple of days, the team are missing some players (and) I'm just here to help in any way I can."

Armed with 78 caps, Noh isn't fazed despite knowing he has some big shoes to fill.

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