Interviews

Introducing Warriors’ fourth Hafiz, the Late Bloomer

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It may sound cliche to say that Hafiz took this chance with both hands, but it is what he has done indeed.

In fact, while he is the only one of the four players named Hafiz at Warriors – the other three being Hafiz Nor, Hafiz Osman and Hafiz Rahim – to not have an international cap, things may soon change.

Turning 21 in October, Hafiz was promoted from the Prime League to the senior S.League squad in April this year. While he has made just five appearances in all competitions, he has been in the coaches’ thoughts regularly and has been involved in 15 match-day squads.

He has certainly caught the eye of national selectors, as just two months ago, he was handed a call up to the Singapore under-21 team for the first time.

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The midfielder was a starter against Bahrain under-22s recently. Photo: FAS

He has since made two appearances for the U21 side, coming on as a substitute against Hong Kong in July and starting the game against Bahrain in September.  

Warriors’ goalkeeper coach Lee Bee Seng, who was part of the national set-up for 16 years until July this year, has certainly been impressed and believes that Hafiz has lots of potential in him.

“He’s similar to Zul (Singapore international Zulfahmi Arifin). He’s got good technique, vision and his shooting is pretty good as well. He will probably make the SEA Games squad next year,” Lee said.

New goals

For now, Hafiz has just one clear goal in mind, which is to establish himself as a first team player for Warriors and to make the SEA Games squad next year, before aiming to make the breakthrough into the senior national team squad.

So far, all signs have been pretty positive.

His club captain, Zulfadli Zainal, believes he can certainly go far in football, but only if the youngster remains focused and continue to work hard.

“His attitude when he first came here was lackadaisical,” Zulfadli says. “But after some hairdryer treatment from the senior players, he improved.

“He has the potential to go far, provided he has the desire to learn and is willing to run the extra mile for the team.”

All these advices have not fallen onto deaf ears. Hafiz himself knows that he has to keep improving if he wants to achieve his goals.

After all, he has proved that through hard work, anyone can realise their dreams, and he intends to keep it this way.

“Everyone has been giving me tips. They are telling me what to do, relating their experience to me,” Hafiz says.  “It's good for me that everyone is sharing advice with me. That's what I wanted.

“Sometimes if I'm not doing well, I will go to them. I like it that they are willing to tell me things. I've know some people who won't share advice with you, but here, everyone is taking time out to guide me and that's good for me.

“I know I need to train more and improve further right now. There's still a long way to go for me. I need to prove to the coaches that I deserve my place in the squad and also fight for a spot in the first team.”

Main Photo: Warriors FC