Malaysia's Faizal Saari (left) tussling for the ball with an Australian player during their Group A World Cup match at The Hague last week, which Malaysia lost 0-4. - AFP
THE HAGUE: He was expected to be the star player in the team – the one to turn a match in Malaysia’s favour.
But, thus far, striker Faizal Saari has been relatively quiet and yet to score a goal in the World Cup here at The Hague.
Faizal, however, is not overly concerned as he feels the players have given their best “but the outcome has not gone our way”.
“I’m just as disappointed as the other players after three straight defeats. We’ve done our best and you can see that everyone tried hard,” he said.
“Frankly, this is the first time that most of us are playing at this level ... the games here are at a different level altogether. I believe we have improved with each game ... all we need to do is to step up our tempo to match the others.”
Faizal, 22, admitted that based on the chances created, he should have scored at least one goal by now.
Faizal has urged his team-mates to be more aggressive in their next match, against India, and also to make better use of the field attempts and penalty corner set pieces.
“That goes for me too ... I want to pay harder. There are still two more matches to go for us and we need to start getting some points on board,” he said.
Malaysia will play India on Saturday and complete their Group A fixtures against Spain on Monday.
Malaysia need at least four points to be sure of meeting their 10th-placing target. That does not leave them with much option but to win the two remaining matches.
“Yes, the situation is critical for us. But I believe in the team and I feel we can win. Like I said, we need to tweak out game plan a bit,” said Faizal.
“Our mental strength is also very important ... we must be ready for a tough time as these two teams (India and Spain) will also want to secure full points.”
One thing in Malaysia’s favour is that Faizal has a good knowledge of the Indian players as he had played in the Hockey India League for the last two seasons.
“Yes, I have a fair bit of idea about the Indian players’ abilities. They are good but we have the talent to beat them. It’ll all boil down to who can come up with the right strategy,” he said.