Football Tribe Indonesia
The ball is placed between him and the wall. He stood up, fully focused. Eyes on the ball, hands on his waist. He looked at the crowd, maybe to distract himself from the tension, or just to relax his focus. Then, he stepped in forward to execute it.
Only two steps forward. First with his right foot, followed by the left foot. Every part of his body follows. The ball is hit with razor-sharp accuracy. Another outstanding goal by Safawi Rasid.
Last week, he scored the opener against Indonesia at Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. An amazing free-kick in 30th minute, right in front of Indonesia’s penalty box. It was a strike that could be one of the best goals scored in Malaysian football history.
That was just the beginning of Safawi’s contribution to that match. His second goal was scored in the second half, at the 73rd minute. Safawi stole the ball from Yanto Basna and converted it with a powerful strike into Muhammad Ridho’s net.
What a night for the 22-year-old winger, who plays for Malaysia’s biggest and most successful club, Johor Darul Ta’zim.
Safawi and his lethal left foot
The free-kick goal once again confirmed Safawi’s status as South-East Asia’s latest wonderkid. With those two goals, the Dungun-born attacker has scored six goals from only ten matches for the Malaysia national team this year. Remember, he is “only” a winger.
This red-hot form continues from his prolific goal-scoring since last year’s Asian Games. In the 2018 edition of the Games in Jakarta-Palembang, Safawi scored 4 goals, including a brace against Korea – a match that even had Son Heung-min worrying about his goal medal and military service exemption.
He’s not only a prolific goal-scorer – Safawi is also a good goal-creator as well. This season, he registered six assists scored nine goals from 26 matches in club competitions. While in Malaysia national team, Safawi bagged four assists and nine goals from 25 caps.
It is clear that Safawi Rasid is among the elite in terms of rising stars from South-East Asia, alongside Nguyen Cong Phuong (Vietnam), Suphanat Mueanta (Thailand), and Bagus Kahfi (Indonesia). But, do you know who ‘found’ him?
You might be surprised, because Indonesian coach Rahmad Darmawan is the man behind Safawi’s talent. Coach RD, as he is commonly known, watched Safawi played when he was 15 years old. Rahmad then brought him to train with T-team (now changed to Terengganu FC) senior team, opening the door for the youngster to play for the first team.
After that, Safawi developed very quickly. Made his first appearance for the Malaysia national team in 2016, and joined Johor Darul Ta’zim in 2017.
Another interesting story – after being scouted by Indonesian coach, Safawi made his international debut when Malaysia lost 0-3 against Indonesia and then became the Malaysia national team’s key player as they overperformed in Indonesia.
So Indonesia and Malaysia are also interrelated. Is there any chance Safawi will play in the Indonesian league?
Hmm… I’m afraid not. JDT boss Tunku Mahkota Johor (TMJ) once said he will only sell Safawi if the player moves to the J1 League, or select Thai League clubs (Buriram United or Muangthong United). Many are right to believe that he deserves to be among Asia’s elite – something that his current club is striving to reach as well.
A good player needs a good league, right?