Written By: Nigel Chin
22 May 2015: All season so far, every department of the LionsXII squad has shone.
From the goalkeeper right up to the forwards, each and every player called upon has sparkled and played their hearts out.
But come Saturday evening when LionsXII take on Kelantan FA in their first-ever appearance in the Malaysia FA Cup final, the wingers might play the most crucial role, given how Faris Ramli and Gabriel Quak are enjoying a breakout season.
Both have scored four goals this season, with Faris notching three in the league and one in the FA Cup, while Quak has two apiece in the two competitions.
The duo have also recorded three assists among them in the FA Cup, highlighting their importance to the team.
This fact was not lost on both Faris and Quak, as it was repeatedly emphasised to them by their coach Fandi Ahmad.
“Coach Fandi has told me and Gabriel that we will have an important role and I think we really need to step up to our maximum,” Faris stated.
“In front of the capacity crowd, we will have to pull out an A-game – that will be amazing. I hope luck will be on our side as well, but of course, I’m full of confidence as well.
“For me, my personal belief is that the team will do well if we all believe in ourselves that we will lift the trophy at the end.”
Quak echoed his teammate’s sentiment and added: ”Of course, attacking down the wings has always been one of the key focus in our team, and it shouldn’t change much for the game.”
“For me and Faris, this is one of the games where we have to really step up and bring our A-game. It’s one of the biggest game as it’s a final, and I hope this will be one of the best game ever.
“I know this season things have been going well, but I want to just focus on this game and hope to contribute greatly on the pitch for the team to lift the trophy.”
History however, suggests that LionsXII will find it hard against the Red Warriors having won just once in seven matches, including a 2-0 defeat in the league earlier this year.
Quak however, believes that LionsXII are no longer the same team as compared to the start of the year.
“That Kelantan game was the second game of the season, and it was still early days,” the 24-year-old said.
“The team was still adapting to changes, and now almost midway through in the season, things have changed and we have learnt a lot since then.
“We have definitely matured as a team. It will be a different ball game, it will be a different LionsXII team taking them on.
“The past few games is something that have benefitted us – the stakes were high and we have adapted.
“It’s a totally different team from the 2-0 loss.”