Wing wonders Quak and Faris looking to cement national team spots
The LionsXII duo is looking forward to be regular starters for the Lions in the future
By Kenneth Tan
The two of them had mixed fortunes so far in 2013, but there is a definite common between them: Both are relishing the opportunity to don the Lions shirt for the first time and possibly progress to be regular starters in the future.
For Gabriel Quak, his season with the LionsXII has not exactly gone the way he has expected – making only five starts and a handful of appearances from the bench in the 18 games played so far.
In fact, the 3-1 win over Selangor PKNS on Monday was the first time he has featured from the get-go in a home fixture.
Thus, it was a surreal feeling when the 22-year-old heard of his inclusion in Bernd Stange’s first national team squad.
“I’m a bit surprised by this call-up, to be honest,” he said from the sidelines of the Jalan Besar pitch on Tuesday.
“In fact I’m not a regular start for the LionsXII. Moreover, I haven’t played much of the games before Monday, and thus I’m slightly taken aback by this. However, I’m definitely happy to get this opportunity and hopefully I can take my chances well if I’m given the opportunities to play in the upcoming games.”
For Faris Ramli, National Service (NS) commitments meant that he has missed all the away games for the LionsXII so far. However, he has been an almost ever-present for the home clashes – starting seven successive games after missing the first two matches while scoring a goal on his home debut as well.
LionsXII coach V Sundramoorthy views him as an indispensable player whenever he is available, which speaks volumes of the development of this rising starlet.
However, the ever-ambitious Faris himself is not exactly a satisfied man with his performances so far this year.
“It’s been a rather good journey for me,” he said.
“The club has a very new team this year and everyone has been working hard and putting in effort for the fans.
“I’m currently serving NS, and thus I am unable to attend training at times. Personally, I will say I’m only 70% satisfied with how my season has gone so far; sometimes I perform but sometimes I feel like I haven’t given my best and hence, I want to work even harder.”
A significant part in the development of Faris was perhaps representing the nation in Nike ‘The Chance’ global finals held in Barcelona last year.
It was indeed an eye-opener for the 20-year-old who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Top 26.
“I’ve changed a lot since I’ve been to Barcelona,” he shared.
“The competition has really benefited me in my career so far – in terms of improving my skills, techniques, intelligence play and in particular my vision. I met (Andres) Iniesta there and he’s a real inspiration to me. He’s small in size but can do well in a top league like the Spanish La Liga. It has taken me into thoughts that I want to be like him. I am thankful to the organisers for the opportunity to travel to Barcelona.”
Expressing his thoughts on his first-ever national call-up, the former Courts Young Lions player reveals that it has come earlier than he has expected but hopes to grasp any opportunities to feature.
“It (the call-up) comes early at this stage of my life,” he said.
“Previously I was thinking if I do well, coaches and selectors will notice me and I can represent the national team one day.
“It’s really good that I am getting more opportunities to play and develop further and I’m quite proud of myself. Now I just need to grab the opportunity to do my best whenever I’m called upon.”
It is still uncertain whether Faris will be able to travel with the team to Myanmar and Laos due to his National Service commitments but one thing is for sure – he is looking forward to work with new gaffer Stange.
“He’s really sharp in training and everyone has only good things to say about him,” he concluded.
Gabriel Quak (LionsXII, #7) started his first home game against Selangor PKNS
Faris Ramli (LionsXII, #24) in action against Selangor PKNS on Monday, 27 May 2013