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Safuwan Baharudin an asset to Pahang says captain Matt Davies

ESPN FC's Jason Dasey and Dez Corkhill discuss Kelantan's great escape from relegation and prospects for the 2018 season.

Pahang have welcomed Singapore international defender Safuwan Baharudin to their squad as they look to challenge four-time defending Malaysia Super League (MSL) champions Johor Darul Taz'im (JDT) in 2018.

It marks a return to the MSL for Safuwan who spent this year in the Malaysian Premier League with PDRM FA, following last year's relegation.

"I am very happy that Safuwan has joined us for the 2018 season," Pahang's Australian-born captain Matt Davies told ESPN FC.

"I've played against him several times, and watched him during his time in the A-League with Melbourne City, and I was really impressed.

"He's confident, versatitle, adaptable, and has vast international experience.

"On top of that, he's really good in the air, so I expect him to slot in for us anywhere along the spine of the team."

Alhamdulillah! Pahang 2018 🤝#dreamsdocometrue

A post shared by SB21 🇸🇬🇲🇾 (@safuwanbaharudin) on

On his official Instagram account, Safuwan showed himself being welcomed by Pahang identities, including coach Dollah Salleh and veteran striker Norshahrul Idlan.

Safuwan marked his "dream" arrival in Kuantan, saying "Pahang 2018 #dreamsdocometrue."

Earlier, he had posted an emotional message to his Instagram followers after changing clubs.

"It has been an honour leading PDRM for two seasons. They took me into the squad in 2016, when no one wanted me at all!" Safuwan said.

"From Liga Super to being relegated to Liga Perdana, everything was worth fighting for whenever I wore that PDRM jersey."

Meanwhile, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have accused Pahang of showing a lack of respect for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) by rejecting an invitation to take part in the 2018 AFC Cup.

A slot opened up for the FA Cup and Malaysia Super League (MSL) runners up when FA Cup winners Kedah were denied the licence required to participate.

But Pahang declined, saying that they wanted to focus on challenging JDT for the MSL title next year.  

FAM's technical director Peter De Roo hit out at the club, suggesting that their actions were harmful to the credibility of Malaysian football as a whole.

"We want football to progress further in the international arena as it would enable us to get maximum exposure at the highest level," De Roo said in a statement released on the FAM's Facebook page.

"Unfortunately however, it would be a difficult task to achieve if the teams do not take international competitions seriously.

"They are only interested in the domestic competitions and one such example is Pahang. This is the reality of the football scene in this country.

"I have never personally encountered any team in the world who would refuse the opportunity to play in the international stage.

"The actions of the Pahang team withdrawing themselves from the AFC competition clearly illustrates a lack of respect for the AFC. Such actions may affect the country's rankings as well as compromise the good relationship the FAM has with AFC."

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