Football: Fandi to deploy Safuwan wherever necessary

Safuwan Baharudin heading a ball during a LionsXII training session at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio yesterday.
Safuwan Baharudin heading a ball during a LionsXII training session at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio yesterday.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Centre-back, right-back, defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder and striker.

Safuwan Baharudin has played in all these positions this year without settling in any, fuelling the debate over where to best deploy the versatile Singapore footballer.

But LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad has decided the best way to utilise the player is to be flexible and deploy his key man in the Malaysia Cup according to the challenges posed by opponents.

The 53-year-old tactician said: "Safuwan is our utility player and he can play in all positions. He is versatile and can adapt well to play in any positions.

"Wherever we need him, we can put him there."

In this season's Malaysia Super League (MSL), the 23-year-old player has been a clinical finisher by chipping in with five goals.

Winger Faris Ramli is the team's leading scorer with eight goals.

Safuwan also netted twice during his three-month stint at A-League club Melbourne City earlier this year.

Playing as an attacking midfielder, the 1.81m-tall Safuwan starred in Singapore's opening World Cup qualifier when he scored twice in a 4-0 win over Cambodia in June.

While he feels that Safuwan excels the most when he is an attacking midfielder, Fandi is glad that he has the option of fielding the player anywhere according to the team's needs.

Against second-tier Malaysian Premier League side Kedah tomorrow, Safuwan is likely to be fielded in an attacking midfield position to pin down the visitors at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The coach said: "It's good to have players who are flexible. It helps when it comes to making choices and filling gaps (through injuries and suspensions) in the team."

Safuwan is happy to fill in wherever his coach feels he would hurt the opponents best.

He said: "I do not have any preference because it's about playing and working together as a team. I play according to where our coach wants me to play in the team."

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline 'Fandi to deploy Safuwan wherever necessary'. Print Edition | Subscribe