Safuwan positioned for success

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Safuwan positioned for success
Safuwan Baharudin enjoying the limelight with his wife Alia Qistina when he was named the Straits Times Athlete of the Year for 2013 on Friday.

No one can argue that Safuwan Baharudin is a key player for both club and country.

The only question that lingers is over his best position.

The Singapore national footballer's versatility has seen him play - and star - not only back in defence, but also in midfield, and even up front in attack.

It was his stellar displays across a multitude of positions that saw him win the Straits Times Athlete of the Year award on Friday.

Yet, it is this positional dilemma has left the 22-year-old in a conundrum as he approaches a crucial juncture of his career with European football beckoning.

When pressed on his preferred position, he reluctantly said: "If I have to choose, I'd say I prefer playing up front. I was a striker during my two years in ITE, and I like to go forward and create chances for the team.

"But ultimately, there's really no preference. I'll do what the team need me to do."

His versatility stems from his multi-faceted talents: Besides being an expert reader of the game, he is also composed on the ball, possesses excellent technique, and is blessed with great athleticism.

Such talents saw him form a tight defensive unit alongside Baihakki Khaizan when the LionsXII won last year's Malaysian Super League (MSL) title with a league-best defensive record.

It also allowed him to net crucial goals, most notably the equaliser in the 1-1 against Johor Darul Takzim that went a long way in securing the trophy.

He also netted a brilliant lobbed goal against Perak which revived the Malaysia Cup campaign in the group stage. National coach Bernd Stange sees his protege ending up in defensive midfield, halfway between attack and defence, and noted that Safuwan might be "too light" to handle stronger European strikers.

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