Thursday, 2 July 2015

Safuwan should leave LionsXII to go overseas says former City captain


'You're too good to not be playing overseas.' That's the message to Singapore international Safuwan Baharudin from his former Melbourne City captain Patrick Kisnorbo, the ex-Leicester City and Leeds United defender.

Safuwan spent three months with the A-League side earlier this year, playing six competitive games as part of a loan deal from LionsXII. He scored two goals and helped the sister club of English giants, Manchester City, secure a play-off spot.

Apart from Safuwan's debut against Melbourne Victory on Feb. 7 when he was used as a midfielder, the 23-year-old played as a left or right fullback alongside central defender Kisnorbo in the Melbourne City back four. And the City skipper was impressed by what he saw

"Safuwan is a great player who can play in the A-League with any club," Kisnorbo told ESPN FC. "He is versatile and can fit into any team environment. He is a winner and someone that has a tremendous desire to learn.

"His best attributes were working in our team environment where he was able to adapt very quickly. He was very trustworthy which is very important in playing in defence."

Safuwan has scored for both club and country side returning from his Melbourne City stint. Picture credit: FAS

Safuwan cut short his A-League stay at the end of April citing a back injury, yet returned to LionsXII duty in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) within two weeks. He's continued his goal-scoring form with LionsXII -- he was on the scoresheet in the 2-1 defeat at PDRM last Saturday while grabbing a brace in the Singapore national team's 4-0 victory in Cambodia last month -- and was part of the successful Malaysia FA Cup winning team on May 23.

Kisnorbo, who has earned 18 international caps for Australia and played alongside captain Lucas Neill at the 2007 AFC Asian Cup in Thailand, was sorry to see Safuwan go.

"Safuwan should test himself to go to the best level he can," he said. "He should play wherever he will improve.

"He is a player that I'm happy to say was great around the dressing room and helped the team a lot in pressure games which shows the kind of character that he has."

Kisnorbo, 34, who also played in the Scottish Premier League with Edinburgh club Hearts, recently signed a one-year contract extension with Melbourne City, a club he joined in 2013.

Safuwan Baharudin and former Leicester City captain Patrick Kisnorbo played together in defence for Melbourne City last season.

His career highlights include being named Leeds United Player of the Year in 2009-10, being part of a Leeds side that knocked out Manchester United from the FA Cup that same season, and scoring his first international goal in 2009 as Australia faced South Korea in Seoul.

He added that he would be open to a move to Asia at the completion of his Melbourne City contract. "I've never played Asian club football so this might be a good experience for me in the future," he said.

"But for now, I'm focusing on the upcoming A-League season with Melbourne City."

Safuwan's next assignment is a MSL home match against Kelantan at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday in what is a rematch of May's FA Cup final.

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