Faris to return after Nike run ends

We reveal which players made it into the top 26 of Nike 'The Chance' Global Finals in Barcelona.

Nike Chance - Faris Ramli, Singapore

By Marcus Chhan in Barcelona

He had the hopes of a nation resting on his slight frame. In the end, perhaps this was one of the factors why Singapore's Faris Ramli failed to make the final 16 of the Global Finals for Nike 'The Chance' on Saturday night in Barcelona.

I am not for one second suggesting the Courts Young Lions player does not have the mental capabilities to handle himself on the football pitch under intense scrutiny and pressure; his main problem seemed to be that his small build had him convinced he could not play as a second striker.

Faris came on at the start of the second half during Friday morning's semi-finals and for the most part struggled to influence the game from his usual place on the left wing. With 10 minutes to go, Faris was moved into the secondary striker position and he looked like a completely different player after that - he even won a penalty for his side.

His coaches were amazed at how easily he adjusted to the new position although this is not the first time Faris has been told that he has a future away from the wings - this has notably been done by Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic.

The only difference now is that Faris finally believes it.

"When I was 18 years old, I wasn't confident playing the role [of a second striker] because I have no size," Faris said shortly after Friday morning's matches.

"Since [my experience at] Barcelona, [Andres] Iniesta has shown me that body size doesn't matter."

The timing of the revelation probably cost him a place in the top 26 for Nike's 'The Chance' but at the same time it has hopefully also laid the foundations for Faris to add a new dimension to his game which we can enjoy watching when he returns to the S.League with Courts Young Lions.

On Friday night, Faris was left out of the 26-man shortlist for the Nike Chance after making the top 52 on Thursday. He will be heading back to Singapore on Sunday.

Watch: Nike Chance reveals 26 finalists... More Videos

Faris had only rated his chances of making the cut at 50-50 after the morning's cold-and-hot performance.

"If it [Friday's announcement] is based only from the match this morning, then I think they [the coaches] made the right decision, but some of the players picked I am still wondering how they made it into the top 26," he said.

"I've learned a lot. The coaches have taught me lessons and I managed to do some good stuff and hopefully they'll see that Singapore has some good talent."

He added: "I should have done things differently this week. From the start I would try to make the second striker position my position."

South East Asia's remaining hopeful was Thailand's Napapon Sripratheep but he also failed to impress the coaches on Friday.

The Japanese duo of Yuki Yamanouchi and Ryosuke Kinoshita as well as South Korean Young Jae Seo remain Asia's only players left in the competition.

On Saturday, the 26 finalists will be divided into two teams and square-off for the chance to be one of 16 winners of 'The Chance'. The match will be televised live on Barca TV while Barclays Premier League referee Howard Webb will officiate the contest.

Inter Milan legend Marco Materazzi, who has been part of the competition from the very beginning, warned against complacency ahead of Saturday's finale.

"The final 26 have done so well to make it to the final game," he said.

"Now though they have to sleep well and arrive at the final with real hunger. It is the hungry ones that will succeed. On the pitch they must be themselves and do the simple things well. That is the secret." 

The Chance' is Nike Football's global competition seeking out the next wave of hungry young footballers.

Nike scouts are on the hunt in more than 50 countries to find 100 potential champions to battle it out at the Global Final in Barcelona.

You can read more stories by ESPNSTAR.com on 'The Chance' by clicking on the links below.

SE Asia seizes 'The Chance' in Barcelona

Faris Ramli's Chance in Barcelona

Barcelona here I come

The Chance gets personal

Singapore completes regional picture

Next stop Jakarta for Thai winners

The chance Asian football has to take

Nike Chance: Indonesia's famous 5

Nike Chance: The secret life of a footballer

20 reasons to back The Chance Singapore

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