Faris looking forward to LionsXII link with Sahil

LionsXII winger Faris Ramli believes his understanding with Sahil Suhaimi will help as Fandi Ahmad’s side attempts to go on the offensive against Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) II to all but seal a quarter-final berth in the Malaysia Cup.

With seven points from four matches so far, LionsXII will put one foot into the last eight of the competition with a win against JDT II on Saturday night, although they will have to cope with the absence of two key players.

Main striker Khairul Amri is out through a hamstring injury sustained during Singapore’s 2-1 win against Cambodia on Tuesday, while wide man Nazrul Nazari will also miss out due to suspension.

That leaves Sahil to play a starring role in the LionsXII attack at Jalan Besar Stadium – be it up top or on the flanks.

Either way, Faris is keen to work in tandem with a player he has known since their teenage years in the Singapore Sports School and the National Football Academy.

I just need to keep my feet on the ground and continue to put in the hard work

- Faris Ramli

After a frustrating year where he made only two starts (one in the league and one in the Malaysia FA Cup), Sahil is beginning to force himself into Fandi’s starting 11 during this Malaysia Cup campaign – with two starts in four matches to date.

“I’ve always been wanting to link up with Sahil,” admitted Faris.

“The opportunity isn’t always there but I know coach Fandi has his own opinions of what kind of team he wants to play. It’s a good thing now that Sahil is picking up his form at the right time because Amri is injured and Nazrul is suspended.

“I just hope he continues to keep his feet on the ground, work hard and stick to the duties that come with his position.”

As for Faris himself, he was glad to regain his form during international duty after some initial out-of-sorts displays for the LionsXII during the Cup campaign.

The 23-year-old fired in the corner that led to Amri heading home the winner against Afghanistan, before scoring the opener in the edgy win against Cambodia.

“I’m quite happy with what I did when I was away with the national team, but I know I can still improve more and contribute to the team,” said Faris, who has 10 goals and eight assists to his name so far. 

“It feels good to have accumulated the most goals and assists for the club so far, but I just need to keep my feet on the ground and continue to put in the hard work. You can’t just think that you’re there yet because you’re not.

“Even though it could be your excellent day, you know that you can do way better than this. That’s the first step in the mind of a professional footballer which can bring you to the next level.”

While the LionsXII will once again come up against former stalwarts Baihakki Khaizan and Shahril Ishak on Saturday, Faris was keen to emphasise that there will be no room for sentiment once the players cross the white line.

“Of course we’re friends outside, but inside the field and during the 90 minutes, we have to put that aside and focus on the game,” he said.

“Knowing Baihakki and Shahril, they will come here and give their all, so it will be tough. For us, it’s just important that we recover well, train hard and go for the three points.”

Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo