Hat-trick hero Safuwan keeps it cool for team

Safuwan Baharudin celebrates after scoring his hat trick and Singapore’s sixth goal of the match.
Safuwan Baharudin celebrates after scoring his hat trick and Singapore’s sixth goal of the match.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

He headed the ball home to open the scoring at the National Stadium last night but, instead of celebrating, Safuwan Baharudin turned to get on with the game.

Goal difference could well be a factor in a tight Group B in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, and the central defender's urgency paid off as Singapore beat Timor-Leste 6-1.

He was the star of the night with three goals and an assist, Ikhsan Fandi added two and substitute Faris Ramli scored the other.

"If we celebrated every goal, it would break our momentum, and it was crucial that we got goals in this game," explained Safuwan.

"Credit to the boys for the way we played, it's not easy to score four goals in one half against any team."

He did eventually celebrate a goal - the third one that came via a header in stoppage time.

He jumped over the advertisement boards, and jogged towards the fans at the far side of the National Stadium, but even in celebrating his hat-trick, the 27-year-old kept to his trademark languid style.

NO TIME TO WASTE

If we celebrated every goal, it would break our momentum, and it was crucial that we got goals in this game.

SAFUWAN BAHARUDIN, Singapore defender, on his reluctance to celebrate his earlier goals during the 6-1 victory over Timor-Leste yesterday.

"Never ever have I scored a hat-trick in my entire career, and I'm delighted to get one," he told The Straits Times.

"And this was extra sweet. I've played in five editions of this tournament, and these are the first goals that I've scored."

While Safuwan's hat-trick kicked the team into gear, Ikhsan's overhead kick goal in the 42nd minute brought Kallang to its feet.

"I felt like I could have scored a hat-trick, but maybe that bicycle kick should count as two goals," said Ikhsan, breaking out in laughter.

"In the earlier two games, I put pressure on myself, kept telling myself that I needed to score, but I didn't do that for this game - I just wanted to play well for the team."

The Lions got the goals that they wanted in this game but still face an uphill task in Sunday's final group fixture. They will need to go to Bangkok to beat an excellent Thailand side to ensure qualification for the semi-finals.

But Ikhsan is taking it in his stride.

"Anything is possible," said the 19-year-old. "We'll just need to work as a team."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2018, with the headline 'Hat-trick hero Safuwan keeps it cool for team'. Print Edition | Subscribe