Safuwan stays put at PDRM
Second-tier Malaysian side delighted to retain Singapore star's services
National footballer Safuwan Baharudin will play his club football in Malaysia's second-tier league this year.
The 25-year-old confirmed yesterday afternoon on his social media accounts that he would remain with Malaysian Premier League (MPL) side PDRM FA for the upcoming season, scheduled to kick off next Friday.
Safuwan played for The Cops in the top-tier Malaysian Super League last year, but could not prevent them from getting relegated on the last day of the campaign.
The player's announcement came as a blow to last season's Malaysia Cup winners Kedah FA, who were also interested in the Singaporean but missed out on his signature after dragging their feet on formally writing to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
The New Paper understands that Kedah were initially not keen on paying a loan fee for Safuwan, who has a year to go on his FAS contract which was signed during his time with the now-defunct LionsXII.
PDRM coughed up RM100,000 (S$32,100) to secure Safuwan's services last season and it is believed they forked out a similar fee to loan him back to Malaysia.
The Cops' head coach Fauzi Pilus said that it was a matter of when, and not if, the move was finalised.
"Even before the end of last season, we made Safuwan an offer to stay for 2017, to which he told us he was very keen to stay," Fauzi told TNP over the phone yesterday.
"And even though we ended up going down to the MPL, we still had the intention to extend his stay here.
"We were hoping to confirm his signing before the AFF Suzuki Cup (at the end of last year), but we were told there were some things to sort out with his contract (with the FAS) first.
"But we always knew he wanted to come back and we are happy he has signed."
Fauzi added that with Safuwan's "character" and new signings such as former Malaysia internationals Shakir Ali (striker) and Al Hafiz Hamzah (goalkeeper), PDRM are looking to make an instant return to the top flight.
TRANSFER NOT FINALISED
But while PDRM and Safuwan have announced the move on social media, the FAS said that the transfer is still not finalised.
In response to queries, an FAS spokesman said: "We received an official request for the transfer of Safuwan Baharudin sometime last week and discussed the subject with Safuwan, who expressed a firm interest in playing for this club.
"We are in the midst of finalising the transfer and it would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this stage."
Safuwan, who has six goals in 66 caps for Singapore and made his name as a centre back, played mostly in an attacking role for PDRM last season, scoring seven goals in all competitions.
He established himself as a star during the Lions' 2012 Suzuki Cup win and then made history when he became the first Singaporean to play professionally in Australia, where he turned out for A-League club Melbourne City during a three-month loan spell in 2015.
The stint was later cut short due to injury.
Meanwhile, Safuwan's national teammate Hafiz Abu Sujad will fly to Bangkok today to undergo a medical and put pen to paper on a deal with Thai second division side Big Bang Chula United.