As the Lion City Sailors’ new signings this season, the likes of Bart Ramselaar, Obren Kljajić, and Toni Datković have all garnered attention in the club’s first two games, with fans excited to see what they have to offer for the campaign ahead.

But while attention has been focused on the club’s high-profile signings, one player has quietly gone about his business in the middle of the park: Hami Syahin.

The midfielder cut a mature and composed presence in the heart of the Sailors team, as he completed the full 90 minutes in both the Community Shield win against Albirex Niigata (S) on 4 May, as well as the league-opening victory over Hougang United a week later.

Having seemingly established himself as the fulcrum of the Sailors’ midfield, Hami is determined to ensure that he continues to keep his place in the team for the rest of the season.

“It’s not easy to compete with players like Anu (M Anumanthan), Rui (Pires), Song (Uiyoung), and Adam (Swandi) in the midfield positions. So, whenever I have the chance, I’ll try to prove myself and show what I can offer,” said the 25-year-old, who has made 145 appearances in all Singapore domestic competitions. 

Hami enjoyed an encouraging campaign last year, making a total of 23 league appearances — the highest since his professional debut in 2016.

However, he played only a bit-part role in last season’s Asian Football Confederation Champions League (ACL) campaign, making just four appearances off the bench.

Having had a taste of what it is like to play at the highest level, Hami knows he will have to work hard and improve to help the Sailors as they compete in the brand new second-tier ACL Two competition later this year.

He elaborated, “You don’t have a lot of time on the ball when you’re playing in a competition like the ACL; you need to be smarter in your positioning and think two steps ahead about what you want to do. That’s what I’ve been working on to try and be a better player for the team.”

For Hami, being able to learn from Head Coach Aleksandar Ranković — an accomplished midfielder in his playing days — has also helped him progress in his game.

“Coach Ranko and (Assistant) Coach Marko Perović know their stuff in midfield; they’re always trying to guide us and give us more tips,” the Singapore international shared. “I always try to apply whatever they’ve been teaching in my game.”

Hami also acknowledged that having capable teammates to rely on has given him the confidence to assert himself during games.

“It helps when I’m playing in a team where there’s the likes of Bailey (Wright) and Toni behind me,” Hami reflected. “With them around, I feel confident in doing what I do best – playing good passes and creating space for our attackers. Collectively, we’ve been able to produce what Coach Ranko wants us to display, and we have to continue in this manner.”

The Sailors’ next fixture is their first home match of the season, where they will host the Young Lions at Bishan Stadium on Saturday (18 May) evening.

Hami warned that the Young Lions, now with a revamped squad featuring four Japanese players alongside top local talents like Farhan Zulkifli, Nur Adam Abdullah, and Khairin Nadim, will be no pushovers.

Nazri Nasir’s side also announced a fifth foreign signing earlier in the week in former Western United centre-back Rashid Hayek. 

“The Young Lions are undoubtedly a much-improved side from last season, as they have several players with significant experience in the SPL,” said Hami. “It would be foolish for us to underestimate them, so we must give our all in this game to secure the win. 

“Last year, we had a strong record at home, and we aim to carry this momentum into the current season. Our focus is on delivering a dominant performance and creating exciting moments on the pitch for our fans to savour.”