Van Huizen pushing hard for LionsXII first team spot
Van Huizen only made a handful of appearances in the S.League last season with Tampines Rovers before being snapped up by the LionsXII.
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The 22-year-old admitted the intensity of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) caught him by surprise as he took some time to settle into life with the developmental outfit.
“It’s very different with the LionsXII as compared to when I was at Tampines,” he told FourFourTwo.
“The intensity has changed and it’s very different. Also being shy and quiet, I had to open up. It’s good that slowly I’m starting to get closer and gel with the rest of the team.”
The steep learning curve toughened Van Huizen up as he broke into the first team towards the end of the season, starting the last two matches against Sarawak FA and Sime Darby after just six appearances as a substitute in the league.
“Sometimes you won’t know what’s going on in the coach’s mind,” he said.
“But all I know is that I have to do my part in training and push myself to a higher level.
“Coach Fandi (Ahmad) has been telling me that my off-the-ball positioning and defending are my weaknesses, so that’s the kind of stuff which I’ve been working hard to improve on.”
An avid skateboarder, the winger keeps himself active on off days by taking to his wheels. He believes there are specific skill sets from the sport which he can utilise on the football field.
“I think bailing is something which can be very useful,” shared Van Huizen, who has one goal and four assists to his name this season.
“It’s something like falling off the board safely, it happens when you try a move but fail to do it. Or it can be grinding down the handrail and getting sacked.
“To me, it’s similar to how you get tackled by a defender. It’s this kind of stuff which teaches me – if skateboarders can do it, why not footballers?”
Moving back onto more serious matters, Van Huizen is hoping to retain his starting spot as the LionsXII embark on their Malaysia Cup campaign this Saturday at home against Premier League champions Kedah FA.
The all-Singaporean outfit will have to finish amongst the top two in a tricky group consisting of Kedah, Johor Darul Ta’zim II and Terengganu FA.
“Out of the six group games, I’m hoping to start in at least two to three of them,” he said.
“Although Gabriel (Quak) is now out through injury, my chances are still 50-50.
“For example, Nazrul (Nazari) was pushed up to right midfield due to injuries and other circumstances. So you never know; there’s a lot of competition in my position.”
“I’m just looking for more playing time and that’s all I can ask for. For the team, I’m just hoping that we can really achieve what we want to be, which is to be in the final.”