Why I signed for Home United: Faris
Coveted winger signs for Protectors after being courted by Tampines, MSL clubs
National winger Faris Ramli wants to play abroad one day and take his game to the next level.
But he is in no hurry.
On Monday night, Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League club Home United announced the signing of the LionsXII winger on their social-media platforms.
The capture was considered a coup by the Protectors, who finished sixth out of 10 teams in the S.League season and lost the RHB Singapore Cup final to Albirex Niigata.
After all, Faris, who has impressed with his mazy dribbling and goals for the LionsXII and the national team over the last two years, had reportedly been courted by clubs in Malaysia.
Over a lunchtime chat at a foodcourt in Tampines yesterday, the 23-year-old told The New Paper: "They (the Malaysian sides) asked me for more time, and that's something I felt I didn't have.
"Of course, playing abroad is still a long-term ambition.
"In future, should an offer come along, I will consider it.
"It's also important to me that, when I was talking with Home, they spoke about wanting to help me improve as a player and they want me to go abroad if the right opportunity comes along.
"I feel like I have the club's support, and that's something I really appreciate."
TNP understands Faris was eyed by Malaysia Cup winners Selangor, whose incoming coach Zainal Abidin is a big fan, and Zainal's former club Pahang FA.
But Selangor fans' backlash over the sacking of Cup-winning coach Mehmet Durakovic and release of defender Rob Cornthwaite - the latter was eventually re-signed by the club - added complications to a possible move to the Red Giants.
Pahang, who are now led by Zainal's former assistant Ahmad Shaharuddin Rosdi, were also keen to take the Singaporean on if Selangor did not make a move.
But they were not prepared to make an immediate decision, with the season still almost two months away.
They weren't the only ones trying to add Faris to their ranks.
S.League runners-up Tampines Rovers, who have signed eight LionsXII players, including Shahdan Sulaiman, Izzdin Shafiq and Hafiz Abu Sujad, were also keen to sign him.
It is believed Tampines, who will play in the continental AFC Cup competition, offered Faris a higher salary than Home.
But the winger opted for the Bishan-based club instead.
He reasoned: "Tampines have eight LionsXII players, and obviously I would be playing alongside many familiar faces.
"But, in some ways, I feel like I might stagnate if I do that.
"Home United will be a new challenge, and I like challenging myself and trying to improve myself as a player.
"I watched them a few times last season and I was attracted by their style of play.
"For next year, they've assembled a balanced squad with many talented young players, while retaining experienced ones like Juma'at Jantan, Azhar Sairudin and (former Bochum and Duesseldorf forward) Ken Ilso.
"I saw how good Ilso was last season, and this is a great opportunity to learn from a former Bundesliga player by training and playing alongside him.
"Hopefully, I can also help the club win some silverware."
Home were delighted at securing Faris' signature.
The Protectors have also signed his former LionsXII teammates Zulfahmi Arifin and Khairul Nizam, and highly rated national youth midfielder Mahathir Azeman, who spent two years with Brazilian club Boavista.
In response to queries, a club spokesman said: "HUFC have made several additions to our 2016 squad and retained several players who have performed well in season 2015.
"Among these, Faris and Ken promise to be an exciting partnership in a HUFC team that now have added depth and quality.
"HUFC will endeavour to deliver our unique brand of high quality football, with more goals, with higher technical ability, with exciting teamwork, and young talents to surprise and entertain our supporters."
CHANGES AT HOME
KEY PLAYERS RETAINED: Hyrulnizam Juma’at (GK), Juma’at Jantan (DF), R Aaravin (DF), Abdil Qaiyyim (DF), Azhar Sairudin (MF), Ambroise Begue (MF), Ken Ilso (FW)
SIGNED: Zulfahmi Arifin (MF), Mahathir Azeman (MF), Faris Ramli (FW), Khairul Nizam (FW)
"Tampines have eight LionsXII players, and obviously I would be playing alongside many familiar faces. But, in some ways, I feel like I might stagnate if I do that. Home United will be a new challenge..."
- National winger Faris Ramli, on joining Home United instead of Tampines Rovers
"HUFC have made several additions to our 2016 squad and retained several players who have performed well in season 2015. Among these, Faris and Ken (Ilso) promise to be an exciting partnership..."
- A Home spokesman, on the strike partnership of Faris and Ken Ilso
BY THE NUMBERS
Faris Ramli scored 11 goals in all competitions for the LionsXII in 2015, his most prolific season yet. Eight were in the Malaysian Super League, two were in the victorious FA Cup campaign and one was in the Malaysia Cup.