National striker Safee Sali has played seven matches for JDT this season, five of those as a substitute. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Striker Mohd Safee Sali used to be the main striker whenever he plays. But, these days, the 30-year-old has come to accept that he’s no longer a first choice.
Niggling injuries, loss of form and stiffer competition from younger team-mates have forced Safee to become a super sub with Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
Instead of fretting, Safee is, in fact, relishing his new role.
The 2010 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup top scorer has played seven matches for JDT thus far – and five of them as a substitute. Still, he has managed two goals and two assists.
The former Pelita Jaya striker is now hoping to do what he does best with the national team when they take on the Philippines in a friendly in Cebu on Sunday.
“I hope I can help the national team like how I have helped JDT when called upon,” said Safee.
Safee admitted that the presence of foreign strikers in the M-League has reduced the chances of locals shining up front.
Brazilian Pablo Rangel leads the Super League goal-scoring chart with 10 goals, followed by four other imports. Sarawak’s S. Chanturu, who has not been called up by interim coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee, is the best local goal-getter with five.
“We have to take our chances on the international scene as the imports are dominating the M-League,” said the stocky striker.
“Yes, it’s disappointing to play in fewer matches as this affects our rhythm and confidence.”