The Malaysia Under-23 squad have got the whole country buzzing at the moment after they turned the tables on defending champions South Korea to win 2-1 and top their Asian Games Group E.
Safawi Rasid was the biggest hero of the night on Friday, scoring with two well taken goals to take them into the last-16.
After yet another impactful performance, FOX Sports Malaysia thinks he could be the country’s talisman for years to come, and here is why.
He is turning into a proven goalscorer
For years, Malaysia have been deprived of a proven goalscorer. Year in, year out, foreigner strikers dominate the goalscoring charts in the domestic league, and coaches voice out their frustrations that local strikers are not given enough chances. But this season, Safawi has turned on the style, both in club colours and also for country. He has struck 12 goals for league champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) to become one of the club’s top goal getters this season. For the national U23, he has already scored six times this year, including three at the Asian Games. There is every reason to believe Safawi will take Malaysia far with his goals and finish as the tournament top scorer.
He is at the right club and right environment
Safawi is supremely talented that he once represented his sports school (Bukit Nenas Sports School) and also T-Team, which formerly featured at the Malaysia Super League. JDT noticed how good this young man was turning into and signed him up in 2016. Since then, Safawi has only grown from strength to strength. Being harnessed at the best club in the country, surrounded by the best players and facilities will only enhance his footballing abilities further. At this crucial stage of his career, Safawi needs to play with the best players and against the best opponents. He needs to challenge himself in every game, and at a club like JDT where competition is rife, he has the perfect chance to do so.
He can become the complete player
Safawi is only 21, and he will have the world at his feet if he keeps himself grounded and has the desire to keep improving. There are footballers who are gifted, and then there are some who are extremely hardworking to make up for the lack of talent. Safawi is a gifted one. He is built like a tank, is a two-footed footballer and is good with his head too. He has displayed these abilities already. The headed winner against Perak FA to win JDT the league title, two assists on his ‘weaker’ right foot against Kyrgyzstan in the first game, and course the countless belters on his favourite left. Safawi needs to strengthen these traits. With the right guidance and support, he can go on to achieve his full potential, and Malaysia will surely have a world class player in the making.
Photo Credit: FAM