Safuwan in limbo

Safuwan in limbo
Safuwan Baharudin (right) making his debut for Melbourne City FC in the A-League on 7 February 2015.

Safuwan Baharudin's A-League stint could come to an abrupt end next week.

In January, the 23-year-old national defender (right) became the first Singaporean footballer to sign for a professional club in Australia when he joined Melbourne City on a three-month loan from the LionsXII.

But, with City's regular A-League season and Safuwan's deal ending next Saturday with a match away at Adelaide United, there is still no news of an extension of the loan deal.

This, despite the fact the club have already secured a place in the A-League's Final Series next month.

To make things worse, the lanky Lions ace picked up a spine injury in his last match for City - a goalless draw at home to Wellington Phoenix last Sunday, raising doubts if City are willing to stick with him.

Safuwan told The New Paper yesterday: "I went for an MRI scan and the results showed that a disc in my lower back has touched a nerve.

"I first felt the pain on Tuesday morning. I can't sit for long and it hurts when I walk or even when I lie down.

"I don't know how long I'll be out for. At the moment, the club have just told me to focus on my physiotherapy work, and I've been doing that every morning.

"It's really disappointing to get an injury like this at this time, but what can I do? Football is like this sometimes."

Safuwan added that he has not heard from the Football Association of Singapore on how close it is in reaching a deal with City over an extension of his deal. The plan for the moment is for him to return to Singapore after City's last game.

City have two remaining games in their 27-match regular season, both away from their AAMI Park home.

They play Perth Glory tomorrow and then Adelaide next week.

The top-six teams in the A-League qualify for the Final Series and City are currently four points clear in sixth place. They are assured of a place in the Series as third-placed Perth have been denied a place in the competition for failing to adhere to A-League salary cap regulations.

The Final Series begin on May 1, with the Grand Final on May 17.

Last week, a City spokesman reportedly said that any extension of Safuwan's contact is dependent on "negotiations with the club's football department and coaching staff".

It has certainly been a roller-coaster ride for Safuwan in the last three months.

DEBUT GOAL

After arriving in Melbourne, he watched two matches from the sidelines, before making his A-League debut as a surprise starter in the local derby against Melbourne Victory on Feb 7.

He built on that 60-minute performance with another start away at Phoenix and completed 90 minutes, but was then left on the bench for the following game, against Perth.

But Safuwan earned a recall to the side against Adelaide on Feb 27 and made full use of it by scoring his first A-League goal and sparking a 3-1 comeback victory for his team, and winning the Man-of-the-Match award.

He then made two more starts, scoring again in a 3-2 defeat by Western Sydney Wanderers - he also suffered a concussion during the match - before he returned to Singapore to play in two international friendly matches against Thailand and Guam.

In his absence, City went on a three-match winning streak, strengthening their chances of a top-six finish.

He returned to the City line-up in the Phoenix game last week and completed the full 90 minutes, only to be dealt another setback with his back injury.

A-LEAGUE

This article was first published on April 17, 2015. 
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