SINGAPORE - Even before the halfway point of the 2019 Singapore Premier League season, Faris Ramli has already scored more goals (eight) than he did with PKNS FC in the Malaysia Super League last year (six).
But the top local in the scoring charts is hungry for more.
"I feel the target still has not been reached and I feel there's still more for me to improve on," the Hougang United forward told The Straits Times after he returned to training, following a week on the sidelines due to a right knee injury.
"I wouldn't say this year is my best year, but I feel I can push (myself) even more.
The 26-year-old does not feel his training approach has changed from last year, but revealed that one of his "secrets" is his family has been critiquing his match performances over the last few years.
"I'm blessed with an honest family... my parents, in-laws and wife always tell me the good things (after a match) but the best part is they also tell me the bad things," he said.
"It's nice that we win and hear the good things, but it's also nice to hear the bad side so that you can come back to training and work on it. It makes me look forward to the next training session."
His goals will be important as the dark horses continue their campaign, after a month-long break, against Home United on Saturday (June 29).
Hougang are fourth on 19 points from 11 games, just one point adrift of Tampines Rovers, who have played 12 matches. They are also behind leaders Brunei DPMM (30 points from 13 games) and three-time defending champions Albirex Niigata (24 points from 12).
A win at Bishan Stadium would see the Cheetahs overtake the Stags as the best local team at the halfway mark of the season.
The Protectors' last match was a thrilling 4-4 draw with Warriors FC on June 15, while Hougang's last game was a 3-2 loss to the nine-time champions on May 25.
Asked if the lengthy break was a bane or boon for his side, Hougang head coach Clement Teo said: "Football is a funny game... it depends on what the team do on that day and how the team gear up for the game.
"Looking at stats is something we do on a regular basis but, at the end of the day, football is all about the day itself.
"The whole team have been working very hard to get where they are right now, not so much individually but as a team they have worked their socks off so far this season."
With midfielders K. Anumanthan and Zulfahmi Arifin suspended, Faris believes Saturday's game is "most important" as it is a chance for the team to step up, and he believes his teammates can rise to the challenge.
"I hope to get into the action on Saturday... no matter how late you bring me in, I would like to contribute to the team and it's the thing I'm most looking forward to," he added.
"We're still in the mix, I hope we can get that three points and (challenge for) the title."