A sublime finish capped off one of Gabriel Quak’s finest displays in a Singapore shirt as the Lions snatched a 2-0 victory over Mongolia in their final international friendly at home before the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Starting on the left wing, the winger was seen switching flanks with Yasir Hanapi while also moving into a central position on numerous occasions.
Having worked his socks off for the entire game, Quak’s moment came in the 71st minute when a rampaging run by Shakir Hamzah saw the former faced with a gaping goal as Mongolia goalkeeper Enkhtaivan Munkh-Erdene rushed off his line.
Quak looked up and took the opportunity to clip a perfect lob into the empty net to double Singapore’s advantage and put the game to bed.
Lions coach Fandi Ahmad praised Quak’s contributions and maturity after the game and the fleet-footed winger revealed why he seemed to have struck form at the right time leading into the showpiece event.
“All I know was that after the game, when I walked off the field, I’m just glad I gave my all. It wasn’t about the goal to be honest. I had a chat with coach (Fandi Ahmad) earlier in the week and he laid out his expectations of me and what he wanted from me on the pitch in terms of positioning and the role he wanted me to play,” Quak told FOX Sports Asia.
“It has been awhile since I completed 90 minutes in a Singapore shirt and I’m thankful to cap it off with a goal. Coach was pleased with my performance and that is what I need to know that I’m going in the right direction.
Having made his first overseas move to turn out in the Thai League 1 for Navy FC this season where he scored five goals, Quak feels that his time in the Land of Smiles has improved him as a player.
“Going to Thailand benefited me a lot. When I arrived in Thailand, I didn’t have much pre-season with the club and I had to adapt quickly and fit into the team,” Quak explained.
“Being an ASEAN import is really not easy in terms of playing time and the style of football in Thailand is also very quick.
“So coming back into the national fold, I told myself I had to up my game because coming back from overseas, all eyes were on me, even from the coaches, the fans and my teammates. So I told myself I have to be calm and just deliver what I have to on the pitch with my abilities.”
Having donned the coveted no.7 jersey in the national team for a few years now, Quak was seen donning a no. 22 jersey for the last couple of games under Fandi’s tenure, something he confirmed will be a permanent change.
“To be very frank, seven is still my favourite number in football but since the start of the year, I just wanted to change a jersey number at club level, get myself out of the spotlight because seven is a very distinctive number in football and people always pay special attention to it,” the fleet-footed winger remarked.
“I wanted to get away from the spotlight for a bit. It is not that I can’t handle the pressure but I felt that at this age of 27, I wanted to take a step away from all these media frenzy and focus on what is important, my performance on the pitch.
“I chose the number 22 for a variety of personal reasons which are dear to me and also to my wife and daughter. So hopefully if I am in the Suzuki Cup final squad, I’m going with 22 and no longer the no. 7 jersey.”
Quak will hope to take his sizzling form into the game against Cambodia next Tuesday in Phnom Penh, before the Lions set off for a two-week training camp in Osaka, Japan.