Swinging Sultan Sulaiman
Grilled's problem between the posts looked to have been solved for some time, as ex-Egyptian Number One Ahmed Abed-Sulaiman
shook hands on a five-year deal with the Birds. Ahmed Abed-Sulaiman
, nicknamed the "Sultan" for his imperious presence in his six-yard box palace, won the Irish Cup and two Irish Premier championships with Inter United in his four seasons with them.
Abed-Sulaiman let in just twenty goals in the league last season, by far the best defensive record in the Irish Premier. Some seasons removed from the international scene, he has nevertheless learnt much from his fourteen caps, which include World Cup games against Belgium, Canada, Chile and Costa Rica. He was an unused substitute against Singapore several times.
Progressing to the National team after two caps at youth level against Argentina and Estonia, he shared the coveted first-team spot with Najjar Rais for some time. Eventually eased out of the squad when young Zahid Ibn-Mubarak excelled with local club The Devil of Mossadak, he has not let that affect his club performances.
Earmarked by Belgian giants Dinamo Qwerty from the junior team of Ennpi Cairo, he stayed for a month before moving on to Swedish side Vi Världens alla Landskampare where he earned his national call-ups. He helped them from Division Seven to Division Five of the established Swedish league, then was involved in a titanic S$20.3 million move to Inter United.
Abed-Sulaiman's taciturn behaviour outside of games and the occassional snide remark at defenders has not made him the most popular man around in his old clubs, but he was all smiles as he pulled on his trademark white-and-gold jersey, emblazoned with No. 30 on the back. He posed briefly with team captain Luis Alcántara
before retiring for the day.
Fans, who had been downcast after Stanton's departure, perked up considerably at Grilled's S$13.9 million transfer, which equalled the club record paid for Dutch winger Hidde van Liere
. "It's been too long. At 27 years of age, Sulaiman is the perfect age and stature for us. Already so mature, he has a decade of action ahead of him." delighted supporter Timothy Ser exclaimed.
"I heard whispers that we had asked after Gaddens IF's Juan van der Toorn and were looking closely at Artur Leitão and Johan Vesterwald, but never dreamed that we could snare Abed-Sulaiman himself. With Wai-Kin leading the line and Sulaiman keeping goal, I can't wait for the season opener against Titus Titanium IV."