Striker Faizal relishes new role in midfield

PETALING JAYA: From a potent poacher to a workhorse in midfield, Faizal Saari is beginning to adapt to his new role in the national hockey team.

In the recently concluded Test series from April 17-22, the 30-year-old played in the midfield against Japan and Britain at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Malaysia lost all their matches as they were beaten twice by Japan (3-0 and 1-0) and Britain (3-1 and 1-0).

Faizal, who was the top scorer with 16 goals for Terengganu in the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL), admitted that it was tough to adapt to the new position but eventually he got into the groove.

He showed improvement in the last match where Malaysia lost 0-1 to Britain on Wednesday.

Faizal hoped he had justified coach A. Arulselvaraj’s faith in him in that position.

“It was tough. One has to initiate attacks and also help the defence. So, you have to run up and down but I went for it, ” said Faizal.

“Coach has his reasons to put me in that position. Maybe he thinks I have the speed and fitness for the role.

“I am fine playing any role for the national team. If it fits the coach’s system, I will do it. It’s good to be versatile, and I will surely work to become good in midfield.”

Faizal hopes the Speedy Tigers will grow stronger and better in upcoming international matches after losing all the four Test games.

“Yes, fans always want us to win games, but we only had two proper training sessions before the series started. But we have shown that we are not far off from the Olympics-bound teams, who’ve had better preparations.

“We have to work harder, that’s for sure. It is also good to see some of the youngsters like Shello (Silverious), Akhimullah (Annuar Esook) and Azrai (Aizad) doing good but the journey for them is still long. Fitness is good, but they just need to work on their individual skills.

“After Hari Raya, we will come back for training, and work on our strength and fitness.”

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