Faritz stakes right-back claim

National footballer Faritz Hameed showing off his skills with the ball during a training session on 4 June 2013.

Before the Lions trained on Thursday, right-back Faritz Hameed was made to dance the Gangnam Style - an initiation rite for winning his first international cap.

But the 23-year-old had been far less energetic immediately after Tuesday's 2-0 win over Myanmar in Yangon, the match in which he made that career leap.

Muscle cramps had overcome one of the hardest-running footballers in Singapore - a sign that international fixtures are a whole different ball game.

"With 10 minutes left, I couldn't 'tahan' (Malay for 'hold on') any longer but the bench told me to keep going," said Faritz who runs at least 8km in a match.

According to match-analysis software firm Prozone, a world-class full-back typically covers about 11km in a game.

Despite the cramps, Faritz managed to put in a Man-of-the- Match performance which had new national coach Bernd Stange purring even a few days later.

The German's emphasis on marauding full-backs ties in well with Faritz's penchant to overlap and support his team-mates in the final third of the field. His cross from near the corner flag led to the opening goal against Myanmar, scored by Khairul Amri.

"Faritz plays attractive football the way I want to - he does his job excellently, even at a totally new level," Stange said after training on Thursday at the New Laos National Stadium, where they would have faced Laos in a friendly on Friday night.

The one-time right-winger had graduated swiftly from representing Courts Young Lions in the S League to become an established name for Malaysian Super League leaders LionsXII this year.

The next step is to make the Lions' right-back slot his. The position has had its fair share of past stalwarts, such as Kadir Yahaya, Noh Rahman, Juma'at Jantan and Daniel Bennett.

Noh, who has represented the Lions since 2001, backs Faritz to become the Lions' first-choice right-back for years to come.

Said the 35-year-old Warriors FC defender: "He is what you look for in a modern full-back, with just so much energy and no fear going forward.

"With big-game experience, he'll learn when to hold back and not leave gaps at the back too."

Having several LionsXII team-mates in the national set-up has also helped Faritz to slot in seamlessly.

LionsXII midfielders Hafiz Sujad and Gabriel Quak were never far from his side at the team hotel in Vientiane, playing games or watching movies on their iPads.

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