Safuwan offered J.League move

Safuwan offered J.League move
Malaysia League match between LionsXII and Perak FA at Jalan Besar Stadium.

LionsXII star Safuwan Baharudin could be playing in the J.League as soon as next week.

The New Paper understands the 23-year-old has been offered the chance to join top side Yokohama F Marinos on loan for the rest of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

If he accepts the deal, the versatile player (left) will be the first Singaporean to ply his trade in the J.League.

He told The New Paper last night: "I'm supposed to give an answer as soon as possible, because I heard the club want me to go over there and join them a few days after Hari Raya (this Friday).

"But I've been busy with the LionsXII and now I'm with the Barclays Asia Trophy squad, so I haven't had time to sit down with my family and talk about it.

"I have to see what the agreement is like.

"But even if it is for a short spell of six months, I would consider it. After all, it's taking another step out of Singapore.

"It's the same like the Melbourne City (move). I had to decide in a short period of time. I had only a few weeks, followed by a trial. This time, I don't need to go for a trial.

"But I really don't know yet."

Yokohama are currently sixth in the 18-team J.League, which has just begun its second stage of 17 games.

If they finish top of the second stage, or among the other top three clubs in the "aggregate" table, Yokohama will qualify for the championship stage.

Safuwan, who is contracted to the LionsXII, a Football Association of Singapore (FAS) developmental team participating in the Malaysian Super League, made history in January when he became the first Singaporean to sign for a professional club in Australia, joining Melbourne City on a three-month loan.

He made six appearances and scored two A-League goals to help the club claim a top-six finish and a spot in the A-League play-offs.

But a back injury put City off from extending his deal, and he returned to Singapore to feature in Fandi Ahmad's LionsXII team.

When asked about Safuwan's possible move to Japan, though, Fandi expressed surprise.

"This is news to me... I'm not aware of this," said Fandi, who declined to comment further.

TNP understands that the FAS is tapping on the same contacts who helped secure a City trial for Safuwan, to set up this possible move to Yokohama.

This is possibly because City Football Group, the holding company of English giants Manchester City which have a controlling stake in Melbourne City, also own a minority share in the J.League club.

Formed in 1972, Yokohama are one of Japan's most successful clubs, with five J.League titles and seven runner-up finishes.

Their most recent piece of silverware was the 2013 Emperor's Cup (the biggest Cup competition in Japan) and therefore qualified for the following season of the Asian Champions League - Asia's top club football competition.

They are coached by former Paris Saint-Germain coach Erik Mombaerts, and captained by Japan's star midfielder Shunsuke Nakatake.

This article was first published on July 13, 2015.
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