PETALING JAYA: Safawi Rasid has found a new inspiration to make the most of his one-year stint with Portimonense SC in Portugal.
The 23-year-old hopes to follow the footsteps of the club’s former players Bruno Tabata and Shoya Nakajima, who are now playing for bigger clubs in Portugal.
Tabata is playing for Sporting Lisbon this season after playing 116 games for Portimonense in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, while Japanese international Nakajima played 47 games and scored 15 goals for the club before joining Qatar’s Al-Duhail on a short stint.
He then moved back to Portugal to play for former Champions League winners FC Porto.
“Many players from Portimon-ense have gone to big clubs. Few examples are Tabata and Naka-jima, ” said Safawi.
“I will give my everything to be on par with players like Tabata and Nakajima.
“I cannot wait to be in action for the club. If given a chance to start or come off the bench, I would surely give my best for the team.”
As a national player, he has been capped 27 times, and scored 10 goals for Harimau Malaya.
With Johor Darul Ta’zim, he has won four Malaysia Super League titles, two Malaysia Cups and three Charity Shields
“I want to replicate my performances and experience in Malaysia here in Portugal, ” he said.
“The Portimonense fans do not know me well. I want to show that I’m an attacker who can play in every attacking position.
“I also like to play a quick game. Even if I’m played as a chief striker, I will do my best.”
After undergoing medical and Covid-19 tests, the Portuguese Primeira Liga club officially unveiled Safawi in a press conference on Wednesday. He joins the team on loan from Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
He will be wearing the number 29 jersey and will compete with wingers like Welinton Junior, Aylton Boa Morte, Ricardo Vaz Te, Sergio Santos and Julio Cesar Czarneski to be in the team’s first eleven.
The other Asian players in the Portuguese club are Japanese internationals – goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda and defender Koki Anzai.
Safawi is not the first Malaysian or Southeast Asian player to play in the Portuguese top division.
The others before him are his former JDT teammate Nazmi Faiz Mansor, who played for SC Beira Mar from 2012 to 2013; Indonesia striker Greg Nwokolo (Olhanense SC, 2009-2010) and legendary Vietnamese striker Le Cong Vinh (Leixoes, 2009).
Portimonense are currently placed 16th in the 18-team Portu-guese Primeira League after a draw and two losses in their first three matches in the 2020-2021 season, which kicked off last month.