Faizal sounds the board loud and clear ­– he’s still national material


PETALING JAYA: If there is one guy who is hell-bent on proving that he has not lost his touch, it is Terengganu’s mercurial striker Faizal Saari.

In the ongoing Razak Cup hockey tournament, the 29-year-old has been relentless – scoring a whopping 14 goals in just four matches.

With that kind of form, it is hard for national coach S. Arul Selvaraj to ignore calls for Faizal to be reinstated into the national team.

And surprisingly, Faizal managed to produce the sterling show despite having been away from hockey for more than six months.

The player fondly known as Peja has scored six field goals, seven penalty corners and a penalty stroke to help his team reach the semi-finals.

In the quarter-finals, he turned match winner scoring both goals in the 2-1 win over Sabah at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.

Faizal said he is determined to prove his worth to the national team.

“When coach Roelant (Oltmans) dropped me for the centralised training squad, I was disappointed. Now that there is a new coach, I want to show to the selectors that I still have it in me, ” said Faizal, who has 247 caps and scored 170 goals for the country.

“I plan to return and give my all. I knew the Razak Cup was the best platform for me to showcase my ability. I want to prove that I can still do the job for the national team.

“I am glad that I am getting my goalscoring act right but I still have to be sharper. My final touches in the D are not good enough, ” said Faizal.

“I know some would wonder why would I say that, when I have scored 14 goals in four matches. “For me, as a striker, I always want to score goals but as a player, scoring is not the only role. “There are many other things you need to work on if you want to be a top player, ” he added.

Faizal, his brother Fitri Saari and Mohd Shahrun Nabil Abdullah are the senior players in the Terengganu side and the trio believe the players are gaining momentum in reaching the semis where they take on Pahang at the National Hockey Stadium today.

Pahang are no pushovers as they shocked last year’s champions Melaka 2-1 in the quarter-final. They have national players Muhd Noor Firdaus Rosdi, Mohd Arif Syafie Ishak and Mohd Hafiz Zainol in their team.

“Group matches are different from the knockout stage which can be anybody’s game.

“But I am not too worried about my boys. I believe in them, and I am sure they will give their best, ” said Faizal.

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