Singapore star Faris Ramli leaves Home United to join MSL side PKNS
The exodus of national players from the S.League is showing no signs of stopping, with attacker Faris Ramli becoming the 10th current Singapore international to play abroad in 2018 after securing a move to Malaysia Super League (MSL) side PKNS FC.
He joins Hariss Harun (Johor Darul Ta'zim), Safuwan Baharudin (Pahang FA), Madhu Mohana (Negeri Sembilan) and Shahdan Sulaiman (Melaka United) in the same division, while Hafiz Sujad (Johor Darul Ta'zim II) and Shahfiq Ghani (UKM FC) are in the second-tier Malaysia Premier League.
Another three are in Thailand, with midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin with Thai League 1 side Chonburi while the nation's top two goalkeepers Izwan Mahbud (Nongbua Pitchaya) and Hassan Sunny (Army United) are in Thai League 2.
Faris has long eyed a move overseas after breaking through as a promising youngster at the now-defunct LionsXII in 2013 and was one of their standout performers in their 2015 Malaysia FA Cup winning campaign.
He scored the opening goal in front of almost 90,000 fans at the Bukit Jalil Stadium to help the all-Singaporean outfit to defeat Kelantan FA 3-1 in that memorable final three years ago.
The 25-year-old enjoyed an outstanding campaign with Home United in 2017, accumulating 21 goals and as many assists in all competitions which earned him an S.League Player of the Year nomination.
The move ended a frustrating off-season for Faris, who was linked to Selangor, Kelantan and even Thai powerhouses Muangthong United.
He went on trial at Melaka last month and even scored two goals in a 6-0 friendly defeat of UKM, but the club opted for Shahdan as their priority is a central midfielder.
Faris then tried his luck at PKNS and started in last Saturday's 1-0 friendly defeat to Kuala Lumpur, but did enough to impress coach K. Rajagopal to sign him up for the ASEAN player slot.
PKNS are looking to do better in 2018 after finishing seventh out of 12 teams last term, with Malaysia's 2010 AFF Suzuki-Cup winning coach Rajagopal replacing German Sven Gartung at the helm.
The Red Ants are captained by Malaysia's legendary forward Safee Sali.
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT