Safuwan's double gets 'No. 1' praise from Fandi

Safuwan Baharudin once again bails out the LionsXII with his two goals against Terengganu. He also bagged a brace in the match against Johor Darul Takzim II.
Safuwan Baharudin once again bails out the LionsXII with his two goals against Terengganu. He also bagged a brace in the match against Johor Darul Takzim II.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

MALAYSIA CUP

LionsXII 3

Terengganu 2

The biggest of players turn up when their team need them the most.

For Safuwan Baharudin, the midfielder has answered the call for the LionsXII in their Malaysia Cup campaign this season.

Last night, he netted his second brace in as many games to help the LionsXII claw back from twice going behind to beat Terengganu 3-2 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Two Saturdays ago, he had also scored twice in a 2-1 away win over Johor Darul Takzim II.

The versatile player has been fielded in defence, midfield and attack this season.

He has nine goals in all competitions this season since he returned from his sojourn with Melbourne City in the Australian League.

The latest victory means that the LionsXII climb to the top of Group A with seven points from their first three games.

Coach Fandi Ahmad could not contain his pleasure at Safuwan's contribution after the victory.

"Number one," he said.

"Others should follow his attitude. He fights till the end.

"Goes up for challenges, fights for every ball - he gets so many knocks in every game but he gets on with it and does the job."

"He was all over the field today and he is the heart and soul of the team," he added.

Early on, it seemed that Terengganu might end the LionsXII's unbeaten home record, as they took a surprise lead in the fourth minute.

Striker Paulo Rangel, returning after a three-month suspension, found space and time in the box to steer a deflected shot past Izwan Mahbud's near post.

The LionsXII equalised when Sahil Suhaimi latched onto Faris Ramli's pass in the 35th minute and placed a well-struck effort past goalkeeper Sharbinee Ramli.

Terengganu regained the lead just before half-time with swift counter-attacking and a composed finish from Rangel.

However, Madhu Mohana's long throw from the right touchline in the 54th minute was headed in by Safuwan. The midfielder then came up with the winner in the 89th minute when he met Christopher van Huizen's in-swinging cross with an emphatic header.

Fandi is now calling for his men to make history and cap off what is already a season of silverware. In May, the LionsXII won the Malaysian FA Cup after beating Kelantan.

"Everybody wants to win this Cup and we have talked to the boys about how historical this tournament is," he said.

"These boys have a lot of character and discipline and a never-say-die attitude. This is what we need from the local boys."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 27, 2015, with the headline 'Safuwan's double gets 'No. 1' praise from Fandi'. Print Edition | Subscribe