Safuwan comfortable with utility role

The LionsXII centre-back was deployed in midfield and then in attack as the defending Malaysia Super League champions came back from two goals down to draw at Johor Darul Takzim
It was probably the first time Safuwan Baharudin had ever played in midfield for the LionsXII, but the decision by coach Fandi Ahmad to deploy him there was vindicated on Tuesday night against Johor Darul Takzim.

Trailing 2-0 at half-time, Safuwan was pushed up into the middle of the pitch to take the place of captain Isa Halim. The latter had been brought off at the break following an early booking to prevent a second yellow, with the hosts overwhelming the LionsXII's midfield.

Safuwan's forays upfront proved pivotal, with his shot from close range being parried into Hafiz Sujad's path for him to tap home the rebound in the 69th minute as they forced a 2-2 draw.

Safuwan could have even grabbed a sensational winner when put through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, who made a great block to prevent a goal. That late makeshift striker role was the third position the 22-year-old functioned in during the game and he was more than happy to play wherever Fandi asks.

"When coach Fandi first came in, he asked whether I was [more] comfortable playing upfront or back, but I think [for all] the three positions I played, I was comfortable with it," he said after the game.

Indeed, Fandi praised Safuwan for "creating a lot of difficulties" when played further up the pitch.

"I mean, Safuwan made the difference when we pushed him upfront," he said at the post-match press conference.

"When I asked him [where he wanted to play] earlier in the season, he said 'striker'! And I said, 'you play [there] sometimes, not every time!'"