For Faris Ramli, scoring the fifth goal in the Lion City Sailors’ 5-0 win over Tanjong Pagar United in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) last evening was more than just about getting off the mark for his new club.
After winning a penalty at the Jurong East Stadium in the 83rd minute, Faris – who joined the Sailors from Malaysian side Terengganu in the off-season – took the ball and placed it on the spot, determined to take the spot-kick himself.
The 28-year-old made no mistake, as he sent Tanjong Pagar goalkeeper Fashah Iskandar the wrong way and placed the ball into the bottom corner.
Nonetheless, there were eyebrows raised over Faris’ insistence on taking the penalty, especially with team-mates Song Uiyoung and Stipe Plazibat both on a hat-trick. New signing Diego Lopes, who came on as a substitute in the second half, was also seen speaking with Faris before the spot-kick was taken.
Faris, however, explained that he was especially keen to get on the scoresheet yesterday as he wanted to dedicate a goal to his late uncle.
“Getting a goal today was very crucial for me personally, as my uncle had just passed away last Monday. I really wanted to score so I could dedicate the goal to him and his family,” Faris revealed.
“Yes, Diego also wanted to take the penalty, but he gave it to me in the end because he understood that I wanted to take it for my late uncle. Overall, though, I’m happy to have got my first goal after coming back to play in the SPL.”
While the 5-0 scoreline might indicate a one-sided affair, it was anything but. The first-half, in particular, saw the Jaguars keeping things tight at the back, and both teams were unable to break the deadlock by half-time.
Faris believes the introduction of Diego at the break gave the Sailors added attacking impetus, but also pinpointed Stipe Plazibat’s 47th minute penalty – awarded after a Tanjong Pagar defender was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box – as the pivotal moment in which the game turned on its head.
“I believe the first goal was very important for us to open up their tactical defensive shape,” said Faris. “But each and every player also stepped up really well after the first goal, and that was a big reason behind our other goals on the night.
“As for Diego, he really performed well on his debut with us. He came in and immediately gave us more attacking options and creativity (in the final third).
“It feels great to be playing in this team because there is always a hunger and desire to go forward and win the game. Now, it’s just for us to ensure that our form will be consistent throughout the season.”
After two games, the Sailors currently find themselves second in the table on four points, two points behind league leaders and reigning SPL champions Albirex Niigata (S).
The Sailors will next take on Hougang United at the Jalan Besar Stadium this Saturday at 5.30pm. Faris knows that the Cheetahs, who beat Geylang International 4-1 on Wednesday (Mar 17), will not be easy opponents.
However, he is confident that with morale in the Sailors camp on a high, they will be able to get all three points against Hougang.
“Hougang will definitely be a difficult game for us,” Faris admitted. “But the morale of the team was already on a high when we came into this game (against Tanjong Pagar), and with the victory, we are now feeling even more confident for the game on Saturday. The boys all want to win the game so that we can head into the upcoming international break on a positive note.”