In a frustrating match for Singapore against Malaysia, Lions coach V. Sundramoorthy may nevertheless have found an answer to one of the nation's more problematic positions at right-back.
Geylang International’s Faritz Hameed was arguably the best player on the pitch in what was just his second start for Singapore this year, which drew praises from Sundram at his post-match press conference.
The full-back was full of energy especially in the opening 20 minutes, and his forays down the right helped the Lions to create his numerous chances.
He could have ended the game with as many as three assists, had his teammates manage to put the ball in the back of the net.
“I felt Faritz Hameed had a great game,” Sundram told reporters.
“He was giving us width on the right; that was the main reason we chose him to start the game… what I saw in training, he transferred it into the game.”
Sundram also hinted that Faritz might have played himself into his plans for the Suzuki Cup, after he admitted that he has “more or less” decided on his back four for the year-end tournament.
This will be a huge boost for the Lions, as in recent years, they haven’t had a regular right-back.
In the last two years, Singapore saw as many as six different players – Faritz, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Ismadi Mukhtar, Yasir Hanapi, Nazrul Nazari and Juma’at Jantan – playing in that position with two of them, Yasir and Nazrul, not full-backs by trade.
However, Faritz’s performances in the S.League have seen him establish himself as one of the best local full-backs, which has been recognised by Sundram, who has included him in the last three squads.
But Faritz is still refusing to let himself get carried away as he recognises the fact that everyone wants to prove their worth.
“I think I did well, but there’s always room for improvements,” Faritz told FourFourTwo.
“It’s just that we want to be in the team for the Suzuki Cup so everyone is fighting for their place. Everyone deserves a chance to play; I just have to take my chance better than the rest.”
Faritz also revealed that Sundram told him beforehand that he was going to start the game, which was his first at the Sportshub, and he certainly felt the pressure.
“There was pressure on myself because I want to perform, but [at the same time] if you put too much pressure, it won’t help your game,” Faritz said.
“I just had to focus on what I had to do and I did a lot of that. I think that’s why I performed well. Hopefully I can continue to do it.
“I don’t know [if I have forced myself into coach’s plans]. There’s still a long way to go. There are three more games in the S.League, hopefully I stay injury free.
“I will just take it a game at a time. Hopefully I get to start the next game, and I just have to continue performing.”
Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo