Malaysia Cup: Defender Safuwan has an eye for goal too

Strikers get their thrill from scoring goals, defenders from shutting out top forwards.

LionsXII centre back Safuwan Baharudin, however, was aiming to do both against ATM FA in the first leg of the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals at Jalan Besar.

That's because Safuwan (right), who turned 22 on Sunday, is not just one of the best defenders in South-east Asia. He is also a real threat up front with a keen eye for goal.

Besides forwards Shahril Ishak (nine goals in all competitions), Fazrul Nawaz (six) and Shahfiq Ghani (six), Safuwan is the team's next highest scorer with five goals.

And he has developed the knack of scoring vital goals at Jalan Besar, with equalisers against Terengganu and Johor Darul Takzim in the league, and an invaluable winner against Perak in the Malaysia Cup.

In the match against Sarawak on Sept 18, he even attempted an audacious shot from the centre circle that was tipped over by the goalkeeper.

Safuwan's aerial prowess has also led to a few assists from set-pieces, including one for Baihakki Khaizan in the 3-1 win over Kedah last week.

Perhaps his exertions at both ends in the last four years led to the burnout he suffered earlier this season - there were occasions when he suffered headaches and nauseous spells during matches.

But after being given a few days to take his mind and body off football in June, Safuwan has come back looking recharged and refreshed.

He said: "I'm thankful for the break. It's still hectic now with the Malaysia Cup, international matches and upcoming SEA Games, but I just have to keep going.

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