Geylang International defender Faritz Hameed is determined to book his place in Singapore's AFF Suzuki Cup squad by providing more assists for club and country.
Faritz, 26, had to endure a difficult 2015 when a long-term injury curtailed his final season with Fandi Ahmad's LionsXII in the Malaysia Super League. But he's since struck form as a member of the new-look Geylang International outfit in the S.League.
Faritz was once regarded as Singapore's top right-back, with a style similar to the legendary Kadir Yahaya. Yet, under Geylang coach Hasrin Jailani's guidance, he has been converted into a right midfielder, with three goals and an assist in 18 appearances.
"I need to be [providing] more assists, that is something I want to improve on," Faritz told ESPN FC. "Goals are a bonus and to be honest, I've never scored that many goals since my Prime League days.
"I was 18 then and scored some goals, but I haven't scored as many since. So it's good to be among the goals this year and I think I can add on to it.
"Geylang have been great to me and even gave me a two-year contract so it's time to repay them and keep playing well for the club.
"If I can do that at Geylang, then getting a call up for Singapore will happen. But one thing is for sure, I'm going into this training tour to fight for my place. The next target will be to make the team for the Suzuki Cup and get into the first 11."
As V. Sundramoorthy continues Singapore's preparations for the Suzuki Cup with a tour of Japan, the tussle for a spot in his final Suzuki Cup squad is hotting up. And it's being especially felt in defence where there are options aplenty in the full-back positions.
In Faritz's absence, Hougang United's speedy winger Nazrul Nazari has been utilised at right-back, with Home United's veteran defender Juma'at Jantan earning a recall in recent times.
Together with his Geylang teammate Daniel Bennett's international return, Faritz will have a tough battle ahead to make the right-back spot his own. It's a challenge that he feels will help push his game to the next level.
"Seeing Sundram as Singapore coach is great. I played under him at LionsXII where he is more relaxed. At this level, he is under pressure to get results and win the Suzuki Cup, and as players, we have to give it our best to help the coach," said Faritz.
"As a youngster, I remember watching [Khairul] Amri score the equaliser away to Thailand in the 2007 final and that is one of the best moments in my memory of the Suzuki Cup. You dream of being in the same situation and hopefully, I get a chance to experience that in future.
"While I'm happy to be back playing for Geylang, getting called up for Singapore has always been the sweet bonus. But now that you are in the team, you set new targets. For me, I want to be starting the game rather than sitting down on the bench and watching."
Faritz will be given a chance to shine in Japan, with Sundram likely to give him game time to test if the Geylang star is deserving of a chance to help the Lions try to win a fifth Suzuki Cup title.