At only 22 years of age, Safuwan Baharudin is the youngest nominee for Player of the Year in the Goal Singapore Football Awards.
The LionsXII defender’s commanding performances over the course of the 2013 Malaysia Super League campaign helped the club win their first league title in only their second attempt.
The Singapore Sports School graduate has also firmly established himself as the first-choice defensive partner to Baihakki Khaizan in the national team, having also proven adept as a goal threat as well.
Despite an exceptional season with the LionsXII, the nomination came as a surprise to Safuwan, especially after he realised who his other fellow nominees were.
"I didn’t notice [at first], and I came across it only over Twitter,” Safuwan told Goal Singapore.
“I wanted to see who the other nominees were. But then after seeing them, as far as I know, I never expected to be nominated.”
Safuwan will be facing stiff competition to be named Player of the Year, with the likes of Qiu Li, Khairul Amri, Aleksandar Duric, Hassan Sunny and Shahril Ishak all vying to win the same award.
“When I first saw the other nominees, I knew it was going to be hard, especially with Shahril, Duric and Amri there," he pointed out.
"They are experienced players who are more well-known than other players and they are capable of doing anything on the pitch. It can go either way."
The newlywed Safuwan even had his spirits jokingly dampened by his other half.
“Even when my wife knew I was nominated, the only thing that she said was that it will definitely go to Shahril!" he chuckled.
Nevertheless, Safuwan, who also won the Goal.com-Nike 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup Under-23 Player of the Tournament last year, believes his performances this past season has warranted himself a place in the top six.
“I feel that I deserve the nomination as I’ve had a good season with LionsXII,” he said.
“I just tell myself that at the end of the day, I know that I gave my best, so it’s how people decide on my performances.
“Yes, I won the Goal Player of the Tournament last year. But to get nominated this year as Player of the Year, to [have a chance to] win something back-to-back from a big organisation - that will definitely boost my morale before the [SEA Games] competition.”
As of Tuesday night, Safuwan is in pole position with 46.8% of the votes. To vote for Safuwan or any of his fellow nominees, you can go this link here.
The Player of the Year award is part of the 2013 Goal Singapore Football awards, the first annual all-inclusive football awards in Singapore where the best in Singapore football talent are recognised for their contributions and achievements of this past year.
VOTE: Player of the Year
What is the Goal Singapore Football Awards?