Team Singapore

Coach: Safuwan can make big steps forward

His A-League debut ended in defeat, but defender Safuwan Baharudin did enough to impress his coach at Melbourne City.

The 23-year-old was handed an unexpected start in the local derby with Melbourne Victory by coach John van't Schip, after injury to regular defensive midfielder Erik Paartalu.

Safuwan put in a tireless shift but was powerless to prevent City from trailing Victory 2-0, before he made way for Josh Kennedy on 59 minutes.

After the game which they lost 3-0, van't Schip described his team's performance as "flat" and the goals they conceded as "very cheap".

When asked about Safuwan's performance, the Dutchman told The New Paper: "Safuwan is a very positive player.

"He has to get used, first of all, to his teammates and also playing in the A-League.

"But he's a player that we rate highly and, from what we saw, I think he can still make big steps forward. That's something we have to take day by day.

"Looking at him today, there's always room for improvement but he challenged, he was not afraid to coach, he wanted to have the ball, he was strong in the air defensively and also when we went forward.

"We certainly did not lose the game because Safuwan was not playing well. We were just not at the races."

- SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ

HIS STATS

  • Total passes: 27 (10 in defensive half, 17 in attacking half)
  • Pass accuracy: 81%
  • Challenges: 12 (won 5, lost 7)
  • Aerial duels: 5 (won 3, lost 2).
  • Fouls: 3
  • Shots: 2 (1 off target)