Following the Singapore Under-23s’ poor displays at the recently-concluded Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, LionsXII duo Shakir Hamzah and Faris Ramli are keen to prove their worth when they don their club colours against ATM FA on Saturday night.
Set to play at the Jalan Besar turf just nine days after they were involved in the fateful defeat to the Indonesia Under-23s which ended their quest for a SEA Games gold medal, Shakir and Faris need no motivation to put up a good showing and make amends for that failure.
“Of course, this is the time for all the Young Lions players like me, Faris and Sahil [Suhaimi] to bounce back and show the fans our worth,” said the former after his side’s training session at Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday.
“What’s important now is that we put everything aside and focus on what’s ahead, which is the MSL (Malaysian Super League). We want try our best to bring the LionsXII into the top six or even the top three, if possible.”
For Faris, spending some much-needed time off from football has helped him sooth the pain and ease back into rhythm following recent injury.
“I’ve just returned from a five-day break which really replenished me,” said the 22-year-old, who cut a jaded figure throughout the SEA Games despite managing to score two goals in four games.
“Coach Fandi [Ahmad] and [Singapore boss] Bernd [Stange] told me I needed to rest, so I just pushed all the negativity aside and relaxed.
“It’s quite a new thing for me because I’ve been getting plenty of rest recently and that’s something good, because now I feel fresh and my injuries seem to have gone.
“Credit also goes to the physios who helped me with the fast recovery and I’m glad to be back now.”
With regular left-back Hafiz Sujad down with fever upon returning from Japan, Shakir looks set to jump straight into the starting XI after spending the last six months at Courts Young Lions.
The 22-year-old is aiming to put on a strong performance against ATM to convince coach Fandi Ahmad that he is ready to dislodge the former in the long term.
“I’m really happy to be back with the team after being away for six months, but I know it’s not going to be easy if I want to be a starter,” he said.
“Hafiz has been performing very well at left-back, so if I want to keep my position, I have to play better than him.”