Football

Huge test for region's best

They have been touted as the best central defensive partnership in South-east Asia, but Baihakki Khaizan (above) and Safuwan Baharudin (top) are acutely aware that tonight, they will face some of the best footballers on the planet, when they host Juventus at the National Stadium.  

And they are relishing the prospect. 

"I was star struck when we played against Atletico Madrid, but in this game I aim to show my presence and not let them fool me," said stylish Safuwan, 22. 

A Singapore Selection lost 2-0 to Diego Simeone's La Liga champions in a friendly earlier this year. 

A self professed Manchester United fan, Safuwan is looking forward to testing himself against former Red Devil, Carlos Tevez (below). 

"It's a once in a lifetime chance to test yourself against someone you previously only saw on TV, but the only thing bothering me is that we may think we know everything about him, but his magic comes from his ability to think and do things outside the box," added the youngster. 

Baihakki, the more experienced of the duo at 30, believes the Singapore team, which will be led by national coach Bernd Stange, have enough know-how to be competitive. 

"Playing with the likes of Pablo Aimar and Luciano Figueroa (both Argentinians) on a daily basis did give me a glimpse into just what the players of this calibre can do," said Baihakki  of his time with Johor Darul Ta'zim in the first half of the year.  

"We did get hell from Pablo - in football terms - during training, and I think that experience will help."

The national team's training trip to Austria last month will also come in handy. 

"We did better than I expected on the pitch, maybe because there was no pressure there, but we were improving in line with the Bernd Stange way," he said, of their results there (2-2 FC Brno, 3-0 loss to Toredo Moscow and 2-0 defeat to Dynamo Moscow) 

"And that's exactly what we need to rediscover tomorrow."