'Forgotten man' Faritz out to prove credentials

LionsXII defender Faritz Hameed has a point to prove as he looks set to start his first game in 10 months against Pahang FA on Saturday evening.

The 25-year-old only seen 16 minutes of competitive action since June 2014, coming on as a substitute in Singapore’s 2-0 defeat to Bahrain just before the AFF Suzuki Cup.

His nightmare started when he injured his knee in the LionsXII’s 2-1 defeat to Selangor PKNS towards the end of their last Malaysian Super League (MSL) campaign and had to miss the last two league games as a result.

Recovering well enough to play a part in the national team’s Austrian tour in July, he then sustained a similar injury on the same knee in their 3-0 defeat to Torpedo Moscow, which required him to go through PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections to repair the cartilage damage.

Deemed not fit enough to make the Suzuki Cup squad, Faritz was looking to start the new MSL season on a clean slate but was unfortunate again to injure his hip during a pre-season friendlies. 

Now back to full fitness once again, he is keen to remind fans of the qualities which saw him rise to prominence over the last few years.

 “I was a forgotten man and I am still one,” he told FourFourTwo after training at the ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio on Thursday evening.

“Football has ups and downs. When you have one (long-term) injury, nobody remember you or what you did before – that’s part and parcel of the game and I don’t really care about that.

“Once I get to play, I’ll just show people what they’ve been missing. If I can prove that, it’ll be all the better for me.

“I’ve been training since three weeks ago and it’s good that I’ve been feeling any pain. Hopefully this’ll be an injury-free year for me.”

Faritz acknowledged that it was painful not being able to play a part after watching his club teammates fare badly in the Malaysia Cup and subsequently at the Suzuki Cup with the national team last year.

“In the past few months recovering and watching them play is not easy,” he admitted.

“But then, I know I have to recover well before I start playing again because I had back-to-back injuries. It’s really a relief now that I’ve finally able to play.”

A boost off the field

At least things have gone well for Faritz off the field as he got married about two months ago. According to the full-back, his new status has changed his life in a good way.  

“It’s more of a disciplined lifestyle these days,” he said.

“When you’re not married yet, I usually ‘lepak’ with my friends or go for coffee at night, but now it’s different – it’s more disciplined and I’m very well taken care of.

“Breakfast is always ready and when I come back from training, dinner is always there ready to be served. Of course she gave me a lot of encouragement throughout this period when I’m injured.”

With Nazrul Nazari not making the trip to Kuantan due to a knee injury, Faritz is set to start at right back against Pahang tonight, where he will most likely go up against danger man R Gopinathan down his flank.

Despite admitting that he is not ‘100% match fit’ yet, he is nonetheless looking forward to the challenge.

“I’ve faced him a lot of times at club and international level,” the former Courts Young Lions player said.

“He’s very fast and tricky, so I’ve to pace myself well for the whole game.

“If’s it’s at Jalan Besar (Stadium), it’s just Gopi but in Kuantan, it’s Gopi plus the fans becoming crazy which they always do at their home ground.

“That’s what I expect to see and I’ve to be on my best to stop him.”