Monday, 23 March 2015

Safuwan Baharudin waits for Melbourne City contract

Photo: Melbourne City

He has pulled on the Melbourne City shirt in five A.League encounters, got two goals to his name and heard near universal praise for his performances over the last couple of months.

But the clock is ticking down on Safuwan Baharudin's three-month loan deal, and while the Singapore international has thoroughly enjoyed his time in the A-League, he has not got any word, yet, if City are keen to keep him past the end of April.

"I've heard comments that I'm doing well and stand a good chance to earn an extension to the contract, and even a permanent deal, but I have not got any news from the club, yet," said Safuwan, yesterday.

The New Paper understands that an extension of the deal is dependent on City finishing in the top six of the 10-team A-League, and qualifying for the post-season play-offs.

John van't Schip's charges beat Newcastle Jets 4-0 on Saturday and are now two points ahead of seventh-placed Brisbane Roar, although they have played two games more.

Safuwan's loan deal is set to come to an end after four April fixtures for City, who are well in the hunt for that coveted sixth spot.

"Some have asked me to come back and join the LionsXII (in the Malaysian Super League) while others said it's better for me to stay.

"Honestly, it isn't an easy decision, and one that I have to make with my family," said the 23-year-old centre back, who is expected to join up with Bernd Stange's Lions this week for two upcoming international friendlies.

The national team will face Thailand in Bangkok on March 26, with another friendly scheduled on March 31.

The MSL mid-season transfer window will be open from April 1 to 28, which means Safuwan will almost certainly have to make a quick decision if any offer comes from City - the A-League side's final regular season game is on April 25.

Right now, though, Safuwan is just enjoying his time in the Australian sun.


"The first two weeks were very hectic, I was looking for a place to stay while having to settle in during training sessions, but it's been wonderful here.

"Now there are no more excuses, I've been here a month and two weeks now, and all I want is to do well with the club," he said.

"It's a higher level here and at times -- when I'm not playing in my regular centre-back position -- I've been afraid of making mistakes. I've played in four positions now - at centre-back, left-back, right-back and defensive midfield - and I hope that I've shown that Asian players can do well here."

Speaking to TNP in a phone interview, Newcastle Jets assistant coach, Mark Jones, says the former Singapore Sports School student has done the Republic proud.

Safuwan was not in the City matchday squad that beat the Jets on Saturday, but Jones believes the defender has already paved the way for Singapore footballers.

"Safuwan's performance at Melbourne City suggests that Singapore players can play at the highest level in Australia," said Jones, who spent some time with Singapore's National Football Academy set-up before leaving for the Jets last year.

"We played City (on Saturday) and while he didn't play, I had a very good look at him while studying videos of City's games ahead of the match," he said.

"I think Safuwan's really got into the game here, he's even got into the box and got a couple of goals, and I think he's doing very well."


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