Hopefully, S'pore trio will stir interest

While it is a long shot, some of Singapore's best footballers could have a chance of securing a contract in Japan.

The New Paper spoke to J.League official Kei Koyama at the Karigane Football Centre, training ground of Division 1 side Matsumoto Yamaga, and learnt that an agent has submitted the CVs and videos of Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin to the J.League for consideration.

Koyama, who works in the J.League international relations department, told TNP yesterday: "We have had contact from an agent for Hariss and Safuwan, and this is before the World Cup qualifier between Japan and Singapore, and we have seen their videos.

"We know that Safuwan played in the A.League, and Hariss is a capable midfielder. Izwan (Mahbud) was a surprise during the match, and following the draw, we received a call from the FAS recommending some of their players as well."

The trio represent the best of the Lions on the right side of their 20s.

Hariss, 24, was part of the Malaysian Super League-winning Johor Darul Ta'zim I side last year, while 23-year-old defender Safuwan broke new ground by becoming the first Singaporean to play and score in the A-League, appearing in six matches and netting twice for Melbourne City.

Goalkeeper Izwan, 24, made headlines when he produced 18 saves to help the Lions secure a 0-0 draw against Japan on June 16.

TNP also understands that the FAS have also recommended 30-year-old striker Khairul Amri, who has scored 19 of his 32 international goals in the last three years.

Koyama feels that the best option for this quartet is the December trials, where local and foreign players fight to attract prospective J.League teams.

He added: "As part of our Asian strategy, we want to help develop football in other Asian countries and grow Asian football together. We also want more exposure in other Asian countries, including South-east Asia.

"To be honest, as of now, none of the J.League clubs have signalled their interest in Singaporean players, yet.

"But there are some teams who would be keen to sign an Asian player from our partner countries, which include Singapore and other ASEAN nations.


"I think the bigger J1 teams could be out of their reach at the moment because the standard is really high and it is tough to get into the first team.

"It is better to find a J2 team where they can play regular football."

Without disclosing further details, Koyama also revealed that 21-year-old star playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin is set to be the first Thai player to sign for the J.League, if he gets the blessings of his current club BEC Tero Sasana.

The only ASEAN footballers who are plying their trade in Japan are Consadole Sapporo's Indonesia forward Irfan Bachdim and Oita Trinita's Timor Leste midfielder Fellipe, who both play in J2.

It is understood that J2 imports who play regularly in the first team earn an average of about US$10,000 ($13,480).

This article was first published on June 27, 2015.
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