Football: All opponents the same says Geylang's Faritz

Geylang FC's Faritz Hameed during a training session ahead of their S-League match against Tampines Rovers.
Geylang FC's Faritz Hameed during a training session ahead of their S-League match against Tampines Rovers.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The S-League's biggest star may or may not make his debut today, but Geylang International defender Faritz Hameed insists it is business as usual for him.

The Eagles will be hosted by Tampines Rovers and Jermaine Pennant tonight and right-back Faritz, the player most likely to be tasked with shackling the former England Under-21 international, is looking to spoil the party and "make things hard" not just for Pennant, but the entire Tampines team.

Unfazed by the former Arsenal and Liverpool winger's star status, the 26-year-old told The Straits Times that he will be treating the potential match-up just as he would for any other player.

The full-back, who has a penchant for overlapping and supporting team-mates in the final third, told The Straits Times: "He's the same as the rest of us, playing with the ball.

"It doesn't matter if it's Pennant or (Real Madrid star Gareth) Bale, I just have to be on my best form against him, and he will have to try to get past me."

Despite watching highlight clips of Pennant online, Faritz acknowledges that it might be a different story on the pitch. He said: "It all comes down to game day; you have to study how he plays."

Pennant aside, the former LionsXII stalwart believes it is important for his team to win their first game - and what better way to make a statement than by beating the pre-season favourites.

Indeed, with Albirex Niigata upsetting S-League champions Brunei DPMM in the Community Shield on Saturday, the Eagles' coach Hasrin Jailani is not ruling out his team springing an away surprise.

A member of Geylang's last league-winning team in 2001, the 40-year-old said: "With the players I have, we are confident as a team. Tampines as a first game is a good test. We are underdogs, but anything can happen. As they say, the ball is round."

He indicated that he has yet to decide if Faritz or former Young Lions captain Al-Qaasimy Rahman will start at right-back, though he believes his men are "experienced enough to handle such situations".

He also has no intention of man-marking the likes of Pennant and former LionsXII players Shahdan Sulaiman and Chistopher van Huizen. He said: "We've watched videos of them... We'll focus on our own game, and play collectively as a team." 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'All opponents the same: Faritz'. Print Edition | Subscribe