Faris and Sahil back with the LionsXII for FA Cup final
Faris and Sahil make timely return to boost LionsXII's attack
For Faris Ramli and Sahil Suhaimi, the South-east Asia (SEA) Games can wait.
A more urgent task awaits them - beating Kelantan in the Malaysian FA Cup final at the Bukit Jalil Stadium tomorrow.
The duo, together with Christopher van Huizen and Faris Azienuddin, re-joined the LionsXII after going on a training trip to Japan last week, as part of the national Under-23 side's preparations for next month's SEA Games.
Much is at stake for Faris and Sahil as they prepare for the biggest night of their football careers.
The LionsXII are the first Singaporean team since coach Fandi Ahmad led the Dream Team of 1994 to victory in the Malaysia Cup final at the Shah Alam Stadium.
Victory over Kelantan in Kuala Lumpur will also see Faris and Sahil pick up their first senior competitive titles.
Sahil, 22, said: "Wow, I'm still trying to digest the fact that we're making history.
"It's a funny feeling, actually. I'm scared, nervous and happy all at the same time.
"There's a lot at stake at Bukit Jalil, so we just have to make sure we don't crumble under the weight of our own history.
"This will be the first Cup final for Faris and me. We get through 90 minutes, and we'll have something on our shelves at home."
Faris, though, cautioned against looking too far ahead lest it becomes a distraction.
A win, he said, will go some way towards placating the detractors.
Said the 22-year-old: "It's great to know that we can make history, but honestly, I prefer not to look at it that way.
"It can only weigh us down if we keep obsessing over it. But we know this is a huge step, a final step.
"We want to make things right. We have our critics, and people who just don't want us to succeed.
"So, when we step out on the pitch, there's going to be only one thing on our minds: Do it for the fans. God willing, everything else will fall into place."
The pair scored a combined total of three goals in the Cup, but they missed the dramatic second leg of the semi-finals against Terengganu last week as they were in Japan.
In fact, the tug-of-war between Fandi Ahmad's LionsXII and Aide Iskandar's Young Lions for their services has been going on all season.
But Faris, who is expected to start the final, believes that the situation works to their benefit.
"I wouldn't say that I wasn't a little annoyed when I first had to deal with the changing of teams during the season," he said.
"But that's how life is. It's all about making sacrifices. All the coaches and former players who have spoken to me have told me to just give in, and after a while I realised that you just have to be there for whichever team that need you the most.
"Fatigue has been a huge issue of course. But we're technically in pre-season for the SEA Games, and it's a boost for Sahil and I because we have been actually playing competitively at high levels.
"We've spent the past few months giving our all on both sides, and it's aiding our development and making us better players.
"This is brilliant for us."