Football: Safuwan's tough start

MELBOURNE - The move has been celebrated, with many believing it is one giant step for him as he looks to make the leap from a young footballer with potential to a star who could one day ply his trade in europe.

It has raised the hopes for so many young football dreamers, who now know they could plot the path he is currently on.

Now Singapore football's modern trailblazer, one would think Safuwan Baharudin would have been excited and eager in his first week with A-League side Melbourne City.

Instead, the centre back has been battling the butterflies in his stomach.

"Honestly, I am really scared," Safuwan told The New Paper yesterday. "I'm so scared one day I'll oversleep and report for training late. "So much so that my wife and I keep waking up every few hours, almost every night.

"We both have two phones here, and we set two alarms on each.

"So that's four alarms. That's how worried I am."

The 23-year-old national defender signed a three-month loan deal with A-League outfit Melbourne City last Thursday after impressing in a 10-day trial in Abu Dhabi.

City played their first game after the mid-season break last Sunday and, although Safuwan was in the matchday squad of 16, he didn't feature in the club's 2-1 home win over AFC Champions League winners Western Sydney Wanderers at the AAMI Park Stadium.

The club are now in sixth spot in the 10-team A-League, while the Wanderers languish in bottom place.

Like any ambitious pro, Safuwan's goal is to start for City against Melbourne Victory tomorrow.

He already knows the level of discipline expected from City's players, who include former Chelsea star Damien Duff and Leicester City player Patrick Kisnorbo, and it is very different from what he experienced in Singapore.

Safuwan, who has been assigned the No. 29 jersey, said: "Back home, if training is at 10am, players would get on the pitch 9.30am, some 9.55am... not here.

"Here, everybody's at the ground one-and-a-half hours before training starts."

The eyebags were not evident last night, though, when TNP met Safuwan and wife Alia Qistina for dinner.

Alia joined him in Melbourne last Saturday and the couple are trying to get settled.

Today, they will begin moving into an apartment near the Docklands area of Melbourne, which is near the City district.

Since he arrived here last Thursday, Safuwan has been staying in an apartment at Breakfree Bell City, which is a 10-minute drive from the team's training base at La Trobe University.

"It's really hard to find a furnished apartment here," said air stewardess Alia, who is on a year-long unpaid leave.

"We went around looking at five places before we decided on one."


Added Safuwan: "The last one week has been spent trying to familiarise ourselves with this place.

"So right after training, I get home around 1pm and we go out to view apartments or do something else. Almost everything closes at 5pm, so it's a rush everyday.

"At night, we both spend an hour working out in the gym and then I go to sleep before midnight, sometimes even as early as 10 plus or 11."

It hasn't been easy for the couple as Alia misses her family. Safuwan, meanwhile, yearns for a chance to play competitively.

City's next match is a blood-and-thunder local derby against Victory tomorrow and Safuwan is unsure if the club's Dutch coach, John van't Schip, will hand him a debut in such a white-hot atmosphere.

He hasn't forgotten his teammates from the LionsXII, who will begin their Malaysian Super League campaign against PDRM tomorrow. "I really miss the guys, and the stupid jokes," he said.

"I communicate well with my teammates here and we joke around, too, but it's different

This article was first published on Feb 06, 2015.
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