Former Singapore striker Qiu Li has arrived from China to participate in Fahrudin Mustafic’s star-studded testimonial match on Sunday.
Already overwhelmed by emotions in what was his final week as a professional footballer, Fahrudin was speechless when his former Tampines Rovers and national teammate Qiu showed up in front of him on Friday evening.
The naturalised player who like Fahrudin, was an integral member of Radojko Avramovic’s Lions setup, is currently a coach with Liaoning Shenyang in China.
He was the player named by Fahrudin as the ex-teammate he would love to see at the testimonial and when Qiu was contacted by FOX Sports Asia editor Kelvin Leong, the burly forward accepted the invitation and booked his flight to return to the Lion City.
Along with Tampines Chairman Desmond Ong and General Manager Leonard Koh, the surprise was planned and executed without the knowledge of the player himself.
Fahrudin, who was at a game at Jalan Besar Stadium as assistant coach of the Tampines Rovers U-19 squad was overwhelmed by the surprise.
“When you asked me who I wanted to play with at my testimonial and I said Qiu, but I didn’t think it was possible,” the 37-year-old told FOX Sports Asia.
“When Qiu stood at the tunnel just now, I thought I saw wrongly but when I realise it was him, I was so happy.
“We will catch up and I cannot wait to play on the same team with him again. This game was already going to be fun but now, it is perfect.
“Maybe I will play him as centre-back because everybody like Bai (Baihakki Khaizan) and Dan (Daniel Bennet) is asking to play striker!”
As for Qiu, who headed straight to Jalan Besar Stadium from Changi Airport, he noted that it was a simple decision to return to Singapore for this testimonial game.
“I didn’t expect Fara to remember me. I thought nobody will remember me in Singapore football but when I was told he wanted me to come and play, it didn’t take long for me to say yes,” Qiu exclaimed.
“I had to speak to my club to get approval to make the trip back to Singapore but now that I am here, I’m happy and excited to play in the testimonial. Should be fun seeing everybody. Is everyone fatter and slower now!”
Both players will join a strong lineup featuring some of the Singapore national team’s past and present stars like Shahril Ishak, Aleksandar Duric, Baihakki Khaizan and Lionel Lewis.
The Tampines selection will see Hassan Sunny, Khairul Amri, Noh Alam Shah and Ismail Yunos in the famed yellow jersey.