By Gabriel Tan
Harimau have had an impressive first season in Singapore's top flight and are currently fourth on the table, seven points behind leaders Tampines Rovers with a game in hand.
Under coach Ong Kim Swee, the Malaysian outfit have gained many fans with their free-flowing style of play but it hasn't just been style without substance as they have displayed an indomitable spirit grinding out a number of impressive results.
Back in April, the Young Tigers recorded a hard-fought 2-1 win over heavyweights SAFFC, while just last month, they became only the second team this season to pick up all three points at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium after beating DPMM FC 2-1.
However, one of the few occasions when they have been outplayed this season was on April 8, when they were beaten 2-1 by Home United at the Bishan Stadium. Then, they had no answer to the Protectors' powerful attack, with Frederic Mendy and Shotaro Ihata both scoring on the night.
On Saturday, Harimau have the perfect chance to avenge that defeat when they welcome Lee Lim-saeng's men to the Yishun Stadium and while Home are sorely lacking in form at the moment, they still have the quality to beat any opposition on their day, especially with Mendy leading the line.
The unenviable job of stopping the Protectors' prolific marksman is likely to fall on the shoulders of Fadhli, although he is the one player who is more than capable of stepping up to the task.
Already a regular in K. Rajagobal's Malaysia squad despite being only 21, Fadhli brings plenty of experience to Ong's young side and is regarded as one of the best defenders in the region.
His intelligent reading of the game and impeccable timing of challenges will be crucial on Saturday, especially given Home like to play the early ball forward to Mendy, Ihata and Qiu Li.
In the last three years, Fadhli has tasted continental glory with triumphs at the Southeast Asian Games in 2009 and 2011, as well as at the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup.
With the 2012 edition of the Suzuki Cup just two months away, there could be no better time for Fadhli to sparkle on the domestic stage and stake his claim for a starting berth in the Malaysia starting XI.