Football: Hafiz Sujad's Thai stint facing premature end

Hafiz Sujad, seen here in Tampines Rovers colours, is the only Singaporean playing in Thailand. He was devastated after second-tier side Big Bang Chula United abruptly announced their withdrawal from the league.
Hafiz Sujad, seen here in Tampines Rovers colours, is the only Singaporean playing in Thailand. He was devastated after second-tier side Big Bang Chula United abruptly announced their withdrawal from the league.TNP FILE PHOTO

Player stunned by club's unexpected pullout from league with no reason given for decision

When footballer Hafiz Sujad left for Thailand in late January, he was on the cusp of achieving his long-held dream of plying his trade overseas.

But last Thursday, that dream turned into a nightmare for the 26-year-old, after he and his team-mates at Thai second-tier side Big Bang Chula United (BBCU) were told after a training session that the club would be withdrawing from the league.

Hafiz, who is the only Singaporean playing in Thailand this year, is on a one-year contract.

The reason for the sudden pullout is not clear and official confirmation is expected to be provided by the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) by this week.

The Singapore international, who plays either as a left-back or left winger, said that the news came as a shock to the whole team as there had been no warning signs.

Hafiz said: "I felt shocked and sad too, because it's not just the players who have been affected, but the entire team including the staff as well.

NO WARNING SIGNS

I felt shocked and sad too, because it's not just the players who have been affected, but the entire team including the staff as well. We're all just waiting for official confirmation now.''

HAFIZ SUJAD, on the unexpected news.

"We're all just waiting for official confirmation now, and I hope it will come in the next few days so that we can move on.

"When I came to Thailand a few months ago, who would have thought this would happen just a few months later?

"Nobody could predict this and I guess I'm just unlucky that this happened.

"There were so many thoughts that were running through my mind after the news broke: What can I do next? Which teams will take me?

"I am prepared for the worst and I need to accept this and move on."

While BBCU have submitted an official letter to the FAT to end their season, Hafiz remains hopeful that the club will be able to finish playing the remainder of the season.

Bangkok-based club BBCU are 14th in the 18-team standings after 11 matches. Their match against Songkhla last Saturday was cancelled following the sudden announcement.

Looking ahead, Hafiz, whose wife relocated to Thailand to join him, is hoping that he can remain in Thailand although he is not ruling out a return to Singapore.

Whether it will be Thailand or Singapore next, he just hopes that he will not be stuck in limbo for too long.

Hafiz said: "Since I'm here in Thailand, I'll try to look for a team to join. I want to still continue to train, or return to Singapore to train with a club.

"It's important to keep training because I'm also in the national team. So I cannot afford to lay off for weeks without football."

But even if his stint in Thailand does come to a premature end, Hafiz feels that he has gained invaluable experience.

He said: "I would love to go through this again. The matches force me to think and move faster and the level of crowd support is always high - whether the team are doing well or not.

"I've learnt a lot in these few months."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2017, with the headline 'Hafiz's Thai stint facing premature end'. Print Edition | Subscribe