Future in his hands.. Faizal with the Best Player and Top Scorer awards won at the World League Round Two in Singapore.. After which he went absent from training without notice...
FAIZAL Saari was among 20 players short listed for the Azlan Shah Cup, based on his fitness level which is much more higher than that of his team-mates.
But based on attitude, his team-mates are miles ahead of the Kelantan-born player.
This came as a surprise as the rest of the team went into centralised training immediately after the Singapore World League ended on Jan 25, and even went for a Tour Down Under, while Faizal skipped training for two months.
Faizal is no stranger to controversy, as he went Awol without as much as sending a text message to coach Tai Beng Hai and team manager Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad.
And when he finally returned to training on March 23, he was again embroiled in controversy as he played in the Hong Kong League on March 22, while awol from training and no release letter from the Malaysian Hockey Confederation.
Nur Azmi had a chat with Faizal on the sidelines of the National Under-16 finals on Sunday and said the player is ready to give his full commitment.
"Even though he missed training for months without notice, he is still fitter than many of his team-mates. He passed the fitness test with flying colours, and will be among the 20 heading to Ipoh for a final selection," said Nur Azmi.
Malaysia will play a friendly against New Zealand on Thursday, after which two players will be dropped.
"It is the choice of the coach (Beng Hai) to select Faizal or drop him. When I met him (Faizal) Sunday, he was quite remorseful and said he had many personal problems which made him do what he did.
"On the other hand, his team-mates have been training hard since the World League, and even went for a Tour of Australia.
"My take is that if the coach wants to utilise him for the (World League) Semi-finals in Belgium, Faizal needs to play quality matches and the Azlan Shah Cup is our last sparring chance, as Japan have cancelled a series of friendlies after Ipoh," said Nur Azmi.
The other teams who will be in Ipoh are world no 1 Australia, South Koreas, Canada, New Zealand and India.
The WL Semi-finals are Malaysia's last chance to play in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and Beng Hai's charges are in Group B with Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland and China. In Group A are Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland and France.
"We need to show results in Ipoh, as the possible knock-out stage opponents in Belgium could turn out to be Australia or India," said Nur Azmi.
In the last edition of the Azlan Shah Cup, Malaysia were whacked 8-3 by Australia in the final.
On Sunday, Faizal was invited to give away The Most Promising Players (Boys and Girls) awards to National Under-16 players at Bukit Jalil.
Naturally, the recipients Mohamed Izham of Pahang and Selangor's Siti Nur Akiah were in awe with his presence. But its time Faizal sheds his cry-baby attitude and fight like a man when problems come crashing on his shoulders.. for, good or bad, he is a role model for youth.