No dream debut for Hafiz in Thailand

No dream debut for Hafiz in Thailand
Hafiz Abu Sujad ahead of his debut for Big Bang Chula United in the Thai second tier.
PHOTO: Offside Sports Management

Thirteen of his family members made the trip to Bangkok to see him make his debut for Big Bang Chula United (BBCU) last Sunday.

Donning the No. 88 jersey, Hafiz Abu Sujad was eager to reward them with a victory at the Nonthaburi Youth Centre Stadium.

Alas, BBCU fell 1-0 to Rayong FC in their opening fixture of the Thai League 2 M-150 Championship.

But, the left-footed Singapore international took heart from his showing, and believes things will get better.

The 26-year-old said: "I was excited to start my first game in Thailand, but of course disappointed that we lost.

"Playing at left back, I managed to overlap, get some shots and crosses, but it was unlucky that we couldn't finish.

"To be defending for 90 minutes is hard, but I think as a team we can improve."

Hafiz is relishing the experience, but admitted that it's a steep learning curve he is on.

"It's a much faster-paced game here, and all about transition and counter-attack," he said.

ON TRACK

"First of all, you need more running, more fitness, and although it's the second tier, it's still fast, and I have to keep up. I think I'm on track, but as a team we can gel better."

In addition to the issue of finding halal food options, Hafiz is also still getting used to the team culture.

He said: "The coaches announce the first 11 just two hours before kick-off, and that's quite shocking for me. Some players who started the last few games found out on game day that different players were coming in.

"But, in a way, it's good, because the whole team has to be mentally ready, and no one can slack."

V Sundramoorthy's Lions came together on Monday, in what was the first national team get-together of 2017, and Hafiz missed out for the first time as a foreign player in an overseas league.

But, he believes he will be able to pick up from where he left off when the time comes.

"I will need to put in extra work to gel with the team, of course, because they will be training every Monday. But I don't think there will be many changes to Sundram's systems," he said.

"But, first, I have to prove that I'm worthy of a call-up."

BBCU next play Nongbua Pitchaya on Sunday.

shamiro@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 15, 2017.
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