Football: Putri Syaliza is first Singaporean footballer to join Thai Women's League

Putri Syaliza Sazali joins giants Chonburi Women's Football Club. PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - As one of Singapore's best female footballers, Putri Syaliza Sazali is literally going places.

On Wednesday (May 25), the 19-year-old will fly to Thailand, where she is set to become the first Singaporean to play in the Thai Women's League 1 as she joins giants Chonburi Women's Football Club, who were runners-up last season and are currently third with 13 points from seven games.

Putri, who has 11 caps, said: "I am so excited to play in Thailand, where the level of football is higher and more competitive.

"I had a week's training stint in Chonburi back in early 2020 and I have seen how fast-paced it is, but I am confident that I am going to have a great month and learn a lot from it."

The eight-team league is at the halfway stage and Putri could make her Chonburi debut as soon as Saturday against BRU Burirat Academy. She will return after their last match on June 19.

The midfielder had impressed Chonburi coach Kritsada Phungmali in Thailand when the Lionesses played a friendly against them in April as part their SEA Games preparations.

Kritsada said: "Chonburi have had a problem with finishing off scoring chances in the games during the first round of the league. I want players who can contribute to the attack and have a good finish.

"After seeing Putri's playing style, I was very keen to have her as part of our squad."

Putri is no stranger to being a trailblazer. She was just 14 years and 353 days old when she made her national debut and scored in the 2-0 win over the Maldives in 2018.

A year earlier, she plundered 42 goals in six games to help Queensway Secondary win the Schools National C girls' football championship.

She was also the first local female footballer to receive an overseas athletic scholarship, when she enrolled in Cumberland University in Tennessee in January 2021. However, issues with her matriculation meant she was not able to play for the school.

Instead of giving up, she pressed on in the United States and earned a two-year scholarship at Eastern Florida State College, where she is completing an associate in arts degree. Last November, her team won the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I championship, a first for the school.

Putri was supposed to turn out for Balestier Khalsa Women's FC in the Singapore Women's Premier League that kicks off on Saturday, but Chonburi came knocking.

Balestier coach Ratna Suffian, who has coached her in the Institute of Technical Education combined team and the national under-19 side, has no doubt his player will succeed.

He said: "Putri is one of the best women footballers we have. Left-footed players are a rarity, but not only that, she has good technique and is comfortable with the ball with good crossing and shooting technique. She is also strong and focused on what she wants to do.

"I believe she can go really far, so when such opportunities pop up, she should go, and Balestier have given her our blessings."

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