SINGAPORE - Safuwan Baharudin gave the LionsXII and their title defence a boost when he confirmed that he would continue to play for the Singaporean side next season.
The 22-year-old had been coy about speculation over his future, but he told The New Paper he had signed on with the Malaysian Super League champions.
It is believed he has signed a two-year deal.
Despite being coveted by MSL sides including Terengganu's T-Team, Safuwan is keen to win more silverware with LionsXII.
The first opportunity to do so will be on Jan 17, when the LionsXII take on Malaysia Cup winners Pahang for the Charity Shield at the Shah Alam Stadium.
According to The Star Online, this match will also count as an MSL match with three points awarded to the winning team.
"It is definitely a big motivation," said Safuwan, who will also play in the SEA Games next month.
"Sure, people can say it is not as big as the league or cup titles, but it is still silverware and it will be a good for our morale and momentum if we can beat the Malaysia Cup champions."
After bringing the M-League trophy back to Singapore for the first time since 1994, the LionsXII will inevitably have a bigger target on their backs.
Banking on experience
Safuwan felt this is a challenge that the LionsXII should relish.
He said: "It will not be easy. It will be a new challenge next season because some players have moved on - we wish them all the best - and there will be new players coming in.
"We also don't know who the new coach is and what his philosophy is.
"But we will have players who are into their second or third season, so we are no longer kids.
"It definitely wasn't easy to win the league, but it will be tougher trying to defend our title.
"We don't want to put undue pressure on ourselves but we will surely give our best in every match and we hope the fans will continue to support us."
After two sterling league seasons when they finished second in 2012 and won the MSL this year, some leading LionsXII players have become hot commodities.
Vice-captain Hariss Harun has signed for Johor Darul Takzim, while defender Baihakki Khaizan and skipper Shahril Ishak are on the brink of completing deals with Johor FA.
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