By Peter Davis
As reported by Goal Malaysia, Australian winger and striker Ryan Griffiths is expected to join Sarawak pending a medical next month. Griffiths, 32, may not be a household name to most in Malaysia but is held in high regard in China where he was part of Beijing Guoan’s 2009 Chinese Super League winning side.
Capped five times by Australia spent five years in Romania with Rapid and National Bucharest before a move to China in 2009 where he had spent time on loan in 2007. A title winning stint at Beijing Guoan was followed by playing alongside Emile Heskey at A-League side Newcastle Jets before a surprise return to China with second tier side Beijing Baxy.
Griffiths is somewhat of a hero in Beijing, on news of his departure from Baxy one Sina Weibo user simply wrote ‘Do you really have to go?’ to the Aussie’s account which has a following of 500,000. With Ryan set to follow his brother Adam, at Selangor, to Malaysia Goal points out why the CSL winner could be a shrewd signing for Sarawak.
One clear quality when watching Ryan Griffiths is his eye for goal which has caused countless problems for defenses and goalkeepers across China, over 100 goals in over 300 career appearances make Griffiths a genuine threat in front of goal whether he is playing on the wing or as an out and out striker.
Few of Griffiths goals come from inside the box with a number of finely struck long range efforts providing the Aussie with a superb highlight reel for his career so far, his pace and eye for goal have beaten many fine keepers in Australia, China and Europe too. A double for National Bucharest against Dinamo in the Romanian league back in 2005 also impressively demonstrated the Sydney attackers goalscoring prowess.
Griffiths set-piece taking will also please Sarawak fans including his penalty taking, under pressure against the likes of Sydney FC, he has calmly found the back of the net.
Griffiths weakness may be an unusual one, while he has had a good 2013 season with Beijing Baxy, the drop in footballing quality was quite clear. The Chinese Super League and A-League are relatively similar in level yet the Chinese second tier in terms of quality is a mixed bag.
Griffiths will have to work hard to keep his level up should his move to Sarawak go through, China League One proves difficult for many experienced players to maintain their form.
Sarawak have already been linked to former Germany and Bayer Leverkusen defender Manuel Friedrich and have retained the services of Bosnian striker Muamer Salibasic.
Dangerous from a distance and from dead ball situations with great pace and control, Griffiths has the ability to make something out of nothing to change a game.
Sarawak have just had a season in which they were labeled ‘The Invincibles’ and with the newly promoted side looking to strengthen, Ryan Griffiths looks like a fine choice.Beijing-based Peter Davis has followed Chinese football since 2008 and is a regular contributor to Wild East Football.