Fandi Ahmad: Safuwan will be man of the match if he plays at centre-back

Fandi Ahmad revealed that Safuwan Baharudin will move into defence for the Singapore national team during his reign as lion tamer.

The Lions played out a 1-1 draw against Mauritius last Friday in Fandi’s first game in charge as national team head coach and immediately pushed Safuwan into the centre-back position alongside Irfan Fandi.

Irfan limped off with an injury in the 58th minute and Safuwan renewed his 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup centre-back partnership with Baihakki Khaizan who came on for wounded youngster.

Speaking at the pre-match news conference ahead of their friendly game against Fiji that is scheduled for Tuesday at the Bishan Stadium, Fandi was thrilled to have the Pahang FA star back where he belongs.

“We are happy Safuwan agreed to play in his best position. We talked to him about it. (Noh) Alam Shah and Eric (Ong) went up to speak to him (in Kuantan),” Fandi said.

“When I came back (to take the National Team), I spoke to him also and told him this is his best position (centre-back) and he will always be man of the match if he plays there.

“We don’t need to see him as a midfielder or a striker because he knows what is best for him because he came up to me (after the Mauritius game) and told me that this is his best position to play.

“I think with him there (at centre-back), we have solved the problem at the back. He is reliable and hopefully he can continue to perform there like he did in the last game.”

With only less than two months to find his best starting lineup for the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, Fandi is ready to give more players a runout against Fiji, but hinted that he may play Baihakki and Safuwan from the start.

Fandi added: “We will see. We will try and see what is possible with the team. I want to make sure we have good players who can come in and cover (all positions).

“Roughly by now, we have some good signs as to who is in the first 11 and who are the players who will fight for those positions. We hope that anybody (players) can step into the first 11 and play.”

Fiji have brought a team of 20 players to Singapore with Wellington Phoenix striker Roy Krishna captaining the side.

Iqbal Hussain is out of the Lions squad through a rib injury and Young Lions winger Haiqal Pashia has been called up to take his place.

While Fandi may be tempted to renew the Baihakki-Safuwan partnership, he has the option of toying with a back-three comprising Irfan and the two senior defenders as well.

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