Analysis

Safawi Rasid: Should Malaysia starlet stay at JDT or go abroad?

Malaysia’s latest star can improve by playing alongside the top players in this region. He can just as easily do that with Johor Darul Ta’zim unless a big regional club puts in an offer.

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An explosive start to the Asian Games has seen Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) forward Safawi Rasid’s stocks rocket. 

There are suggestions of moving abroad to further his career but there may be valid grounds why he should stay in Johor Bahru too.

Three goals in two games – including two against much-fancied defending champions South Korea – may have caught the attention of scouts at the on-going Asian Games in Indonesia.

The Malaysia Under-23 side defeated South Korea and grabbed international headlines, with Safawi’s name prominently featuring in plenty of reports.

In Malaysia, many are already aware of his talents. A move to Southern Tigers from T-Team ahead of the 2017 season saw his career take a massive step forward.

He starred for Malaysia at the SEA Games, AFC Under-23 Championship and scored several goals for Harimau Malaya too.

His exploits have brought about talk that a move abroad could be the best way forward as leagues in Thailand, Japan and Korea are of a higher standard than Malaysia.

AFC Champions League

Safawi is likely to feature in the six round-robin matches in the AFC Cup.

Yet Johor Darul Ta’zim are taking a huge step forward in 2019 by playing the AFC Champions League, Asia’s premier club competition.

The Southern Tigers were knocked out of the qualifiers in previous years but they have a direct entry into the group stages next season after their previous AFC Cup participations boosted Malaysia’s member association ranking.

Having cemented a key role at JDT in 2018, Safawi is likely to feature in the six round-robin matches.

Such a possibility may not exist elsewhere (unless he signs for a top foreign club).

While Japan is really the place to be in Asia and Safawi could benefit from a stint there, the same cannot be said of Thailand. 

Thailand has a top league but there is really no point in moving there unless it was Buriram United or Muangthong United that were calling.

Even then, would he be getting plenty of matches considering the vast amount of talent there?