Hafiz set to play in Thailand
National winger, soon to tie the knot, set to sign deal with second-tier Thai club
Marital bliss and getting an overseas offer.
Life can't get any better for national footballer Hafiz Abu Sujad.
Yesterday, the 25-year-old received news that Thai club Big Bang Chula United (BBCU) are offering him a contract to play for them in the upcoming season.
The former Tampines Rovers star went on a week-long trial at second division outfit BBCU last month, and The New Paper reported upon his return that he had left a good impression on the club officials.
Hafiz, who will tie the knot with fiancee Rin Ellyanie next week, told TNP yesterday: "When I received the news, I thought to myself: Alhamdulilah (Thank God).
"Of course, I was very happy. When will I ever get another chance like this?
"I'm very thankful for my loved ones - my family and fiancee - and close friends, and everyone from Tampines Rovers like the chairman (Krishna Ramachandra), coach Akbar (Nawas) and Desmund (Khusnin, team manager), for supporting me from day one."
Hafiz had already signed a contract extension with S.League club Tampines for the upcoming season, but left for Thailand with the blessing of Stags chairman Ramachandra.
He is scheduled to fly to Bangkok on Tuesday to undergo a medical and put pen to paper, and then return to Singapore for his wedding.
Hafiz will then likely link up with his teammates next month.
The versatile Hafiz, who can play in both defence and midfield, is looking forward to the challenge of being an import player in a foreign country.
"I know I can't just be very happy about getting a contract," he said.
"I have to keep my feet on the ground and keep working hard.
"The demands on me will be high and I have to be mentally tough to deal with everything."
Tampines coach Akbar said that he was happy for Hafiz, but admitted he now has to figure out how to replace one of his key players.
"I'm elated he got this opportunity," said the coach.
"It's always a positive thing for any (Singaporean) player to play overseas.
"So I'm very happy for him and I'm proud he got this deal.
"He will definitely be a loss to Tampines, but we will find a way to cope."
Hafiz's shot at a career in South-east Asia's top footballing nation is largely made possible because of a rule change in Thai football.
Starting this year, an Asean player slot will be introduced for teams in the country's second-division clubs.
The top-tier Thai Premier League will adopt the same format in 2018.