News Singapore Premier League • June 5, 2018

Haiqal Pashia savouring Young Lions return


The winger, currently serving National Service, is back in action after being cleared to play

Haiqal Pashia took to the field for the first time this season against Brunei DPMM FC.

SINGAPORE, 5 JUNE 2018 – When he was around 16 years old, Haiqal Pashia tore the ligaments in both ankles.

The injuries sidelined the youngster, then in the National Football Academy (NFA, now FAS Football Academy or FFA), for half a year and remains the worst experience of his football career three years on.

But Pashia only had one thought in his mind – to overcome the setback and return to the sport he picked up at 11 through kick-abouts with his father at a field near home.

“The injury made me stronger, made me want to push harder to recover and get back on the pitch,” he told the Singapore Premier League (SPL) website.

The determination saw him fulfil a long-held dream from his NFA days of playing for the Young Lions, when he made his professional debut with the team in their season opener last year against Home United FC.

“Seeing my teammates like Hami (Syahin) and Rusyaidi (Salime) getting called up during their NFA days made me work extra hard to achieve the same as them,” the 19-year-old recalled.

“It (my debut) meant so much to me (and being able to) play against much older and experienced players (meant that) I gained so many valuable lessons (to aid in my development).”

Pashia is determined to get back to match fitness as soon as possible.

The nippy winger managed to make 15 appearances in his first season but only recently returned to the team this year, having been unavailable to play due to National Service (NS).

Pashia enlisted last November in the Singapore Civil Defence Force and had to undergo three months of training as a recruit, which was followed by another three months of basic firefighting training.

He was finally cleared to return to action against Brunei DPMM FC two weeks ago and completed his return by coming on as a second-half substitute in a 1-1 draw at Jalan Besar Stadium.

While he is still getting to grips with juggling NS and training, Pashia is displaying the same determination that has served him well to date.

“It felt wonderful to finally return to action after six months of not being able to play,” he said. “It took a while for me to adjust… It was never easy but I am slowly getting back into shape and trying my best right now to get my match fitness back.”

Head Coach Fandi Ahmad certainly has had no qualms about Pashia’s ability – he has featured in the subsequent three matches since, twice as a substitute and completing the full match in the third.

The attacker, who is comfortable with both feet, cited his family, girlfriend and friends as motivation to give his best on the pitch, while he also looks up to Singapore National Team winger Faris Ramli and Chelsea FC star Eden Hazard.

“I look up to Faris as he plays in the same position too,” he added. “I am more of a dribbler and I like to cut into the box, play combination plays with the strikers and shoot at goal if I have the chance to.”

Pashia acknowledged that finishing is an area he needs to work on – he lamented failing to convert the “three chances (I had) in the past three matches”.

Pashia completed his first 90 minutes against Tampines Rovers FC.

In his free time, Pashia like to explore parts of Singapore that “we have not discovered yet” with his friends and girlfriend.

“I like going on adventures and experiencing new things,” he said, adding that he holds fond memories of overseas training camps during his NFA days to countries like Japan.

The best moment of his career is being picked for the SEA Games last year and Pashia is similarly targeting new adventures by making the next step in his footballing journey.

“For this season, I really hope we can finish as high as possible so it will be a good morale-booster in preparation for the SEA Games next year,” he said.

“For me, my target has always been the National Team. I want to represent the senior Lions and hopefully play in the AFF Suzuki Cup in years to come.

“I also want to experience playing abroad, like how Hariss (Harun), Faris and all those other senior players are doing currently.”

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