Fit-again Faritz hoping to keep his place for tough Sarawak clash

LionsXII defender Faritz Hameed is relishing the opportunity of regular first-team football again after recovering from injuries sustained from a motorcycle accident. 

The accident in April came at an inopportune time, sidelining him for the first few months of the league season.

Once he was back to full fitness, Nazrul Nazari was playing out of his skin as a makeshift right-back, so Faritz had to be patient once more as he awaited an opportunity to return to the LionsXII line-up.

His perseverance and hard work in training seemed to have finally paid off though as he reclaimed his spot on the right side of defence for the last three games, with Nazrul restored to his more accustomed right-winger role.

“It was really hard for me to come back initially,” Faritz admitted. “I just came back so I wasn’t fit enough. Plus Nazrul has been doing very well at right back, so I have to just wait and take whatever chances that come my way.

“My target in every game is just to perform so that I get to start in the next game. I’m just so hungry to play after missing out so much and I’m glad that now I’m combining well with Nazrul down the right.”

Last Saturday against Selangor FA, LionsXII were on the verge of losing their impressive unbeaten home record this season until Khairul Nizam’s spectacular late equaliser secured a 1-1 draw.

The cross was supplied by Faritz, but despite the 25-year-old notching his first assist of the season, he was dissatisfied with the result.

“The cross was OK and it was lucky that Nizam was there to do the rest,” he said.

“Personally I’m still disappointed that we did not get a win in that game because we were playing at home.  Selangor came with a game plan and was happy with a draw, so they ‘parked’ all the way.

“We controlled the game and created chances, but the ball just didn’t want to go in for us. We’ve been working on a lot of crossing and finishing, so it’s time that we produce more goals.”

Brushing aside that disappointment, Faritz is hoping to keep his spot in the first 11 as LionsXII face third-from-bottom Sarawak FA in an away clash on Wednesday night.

It appears the Crocs could be ripe for the taking after drawing four and losing six of their last 10 matches, but Faritz isn’t taking a victory for granted.

LionsXII have struggled in Kuching the past couple of seasons, going down 2-1 in the 2013 Malaysia Cup group stages before suffering a 3-1 defeat in the 2014 Malaysia Super League.

Back in their inaugural season in 2012 they managed to come away with a 1-0 league victory via Shahril Ishak’s early penalty, but they had to be ushered out of the stadium after full-time due to unrest from the home fans.

“This is the toughest away game for us,” said Faritz. “I still remember the first year [we played each other], we won and it was hard to get out of the stadium. This time round we have to get something again if we want to finish fourth.

“It’ll be tough but we just have to go in with the same mindset like we did against Pahang FA, Johor Darul Ta’zim and Selangor and not give up. Also hopefully for myself, I can get to start again.”