Safuwan to pass on skills (The Straits Times)

Defender aims to ride on his stint at Melbourne City to help LionsXII

HE MAY have returned after a loan spell from Australian League side Melbourne City but LionsXII defender Safuwan Baharudin hopes he will not forget what he has learnt from his three-month stint Down Under.

The 23-year-old is set to start alongside Zulfahmi Arifin at the heart of the LionsXII’s defence when they visit Sime Darby FC at the Majlis Perbandaran Selayang Stadium this evening in a bid to land the first away win of their Malaysian Super League season.

“It is a mixed feeling. I miss Melbourne but that is history now and this is another new chapter for me,” said Safuwan.

“I am very excited to be back and I want to build on what I had left behind at LionsXII.

“I am hoping to get on the scoresheet tonight and help the team to win more games.”

Safuwan’s return, while a much-welcomed one with fellow centre-backs Madhu Mohana suspended and Afiq Yunos out with a long-term injury, had raised eyebrows when he was spotted in full training with the LionsXII this week.

On April 24, Melbourne City had released a statement on their official website to state the immediate release of Safuwan, as he had suffered a back injury that would rule him out for the remainder of the season.

Yesterday, he shed light on his current predicament.

He said : “It is either a nerve or a disc problem at the back and the main concern is if it is the nerve that is bothering me.

“Right now, I don’t feel the pain but I just have to manage it.

“I have had worse injuries. I am just keeping myself hydrated and ensuring I eat the right food.”

Hungry for their first away win of the campaign, the LionsXII will, however, have to do without the services of Faris Ramli, Sahil Suhaimi, Christopher van Huizen and Zakir Samsudin.

The quartet have joined the Singapore Under-23 team for centralised training ahead of the SEA Games next month.

Faritz Hameed is also out with a toe injury while Khairul Nizam is racing against time to be fit for the clash.

Two straight victories against JDT II and Sarawak, as well as back-to-back clean sheets, have rejuvenated Fandi Ahmad’s side who will hope to make it three against a side who are bottom of the 12-team table.

Fandi said: “We have to build from the last game but we cannot be complacent. We need to focus and stay disciplined.

“It will be dangerous for us to take it easy but we are going there with a positive mindset to carry on our good form lately.”

Malaysia Super League: Sime Darby v LionsXII, StarHub Ch112/Ch205 & 76.25MHz, 8.30pm