Safuwan relieved to ease pressure off Pahang

Pahang FA
Safuwan Baharudin picked up his second FA Cup winner's medal after producing a complete performance to help Pahang beat Selangor.

In 2015, Safuwan played a starring role when he helped Lions XII to the Malaysia FA Cup, a first that a non-Malaysian team have won the competition and just three years later, the Singaporean has earned his second winner's medal in the competition.

Now in the colours of Pahang, Safuwan was instrumental in the defensive midfield role as Pahang romped away to a comfortable 2-0 win over Selangor in the showpiece event at Bukit Jalil National Stadium last Saturday.

Alongside Nor Azam Azih, Safuwan dovetailed perfectly with the playmaker to ensure that Pahang dominated the match for large parts of the two halves. For Safuwan, the win helped lifted a lot of pressure than was on the team prior to the final.

"Same trophy but two different teams. I never really expected to be where I am now, playing for a big state. Pahang have got good memories last time winning so many trophies but lately they haven't won much. I think what was the difference is that I'm finally able to taste a big cup win for a big state team." 

"Definitely there was pressure. We started well in the season and halfway through we lost a bit of momentum. Even fans didn't turned up for a lot of games, so there was a big pressure on us to turn up for this final and win the cup back.

"The final was probably the best game we've played. We dominated right from the first whistle. We have to give credit to the boys and finally we can see solution for the first XI. From the back to the front, we did very well," Safuwan told Goal.

Under normal circumstances, the winner of the Malaysia Super League and FA Cup are guaranteed places in the AFC competitions, which for Malaysia next year would the AFC Champions League. However, the situation isn't normal when as Pahang are in the middle of a 2-year ban imposed on them by Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).

FAM punished Pahang for their reluctance to participate in the 2018 AFC Cup competition, after they were given the slot due to Kedah failing the club licensing regulations. It's a competition that players aspire to play in and it's no different for Safuwan.

"Last time with Lions XII when we won, we couldn't go in and now it's the same. It's a big opportunity lost for my career as I've never been played in the AFC Cup before. I hope in the near future, things could be different but moving forward we need to step up and ensure that we're still one the best teams in Malaysian football," added Safuwan.

There's still hope for the 26-year-old Safuwan as HRH Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim has led the calls for FAM to re-look into the punishment meted out to Pahang and see if it can be lifted to give Pahang a spot in the play-off of the AFC Champions League next year.

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