What a difference 20 months make in the life of a footballer. From a young players with bags of potential but just didn't quite make the cut back in November of 2016, Safawi is now one of the first names in the Malaysia national team squad.
In the time between, the Dungun-born has since moved from T-Team FC to Johor Darul Ta'zim and has seen his career take an upward trajectory. An impressive cameo in the two matches against DPR Korea at the tail end of last year was just a prelude of better things to come from Safawi.
The AFC U23 Championship saw Safawi producing the goods at the Asian level and what is only a prelude of better things to come for him in terms of club football. The 2018 Malaysia Super League season has seen the 21-year-old getting plenty of game time and with 10 goals already in the bag for the wide forward, Safawi is ready to make up for lost time with the national team.
"In 2016, I was very disappointed to be dropped at the last minute. This year I really want to prove that I can play with the senior players and get into the final squad list for the Suzuki Cup," Safawi told Goal.
Pacy, powerful and with a left foot to die for - Safawi has it al in his locker to be one of the leading lights of Malaysian football for years to come. There were rumours circulating after the tournament in China that teams from South Korea in particular were keeping a close watch on him but until matters materialise any further, Safawi is not letting his focus slip.
Having started the match against Mongolia, Safawi could once again be entrusted by Tan Cheng Hoe to feature right from the start against Fiji on Thursday with the right sided berth of the front three being one that is reserved for him.
Despite the fact that Fiji are sitting at 165 spot in the FIFA rankings, six spots higher than Malaysia; expectations are high that the Malayan Tigers can achieve another comfortable victory to add on to the last one against Bhutan.
With 10 goals for JDT in all competitions thus far this season and two goals for Malaysia, Safawi remains one of the most plausible goal outlets for Malaysia and he's acutely aware of the expetations on him.
"Of course personally, I'm always looking to add goals to my tally. For the game against Fiji, we will work hard and while it's not important who scores as long as we win and play well, as a forward I will always look to be on the scoresheet."
"I'm thankful to have been given a chance in Johor. I've learnt a lot there and hopefully what I learned there I can bring over to the national team to help them in the upcoming match," added Safawi.