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NST Online: Sports

Football: Lookout Indonesia! Here comes Safee

Posted: 07 Feb 2011 04:35 PM PST

Ajitpal Singh

 Safee Sali poses with   the Pelita Jaya club jersey at the FAS head office in Kelana Jaya yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

Safee Sali poses with the Pelita Jaya club jersey at the FAS head office in Kelana Jaya yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan

SAFEE Sali has agreed to a one year contract with Indonesian Super League (ISL) side Pelita Jaya FC for an undisclosed sum.

The striker hopes the stint will be a stepping stone for him to get recognised as a respectable footballer.

The 27-year-old, who plays his last Super League match for Selangor on Saturday, will pen his signature with his new club, based in Kerawang in Jawa, on Feb 14.

"I have been dreaming of this since 2007, the year, I earned my first national cap. I thank Selangor for giving me this chance to play abroad. I won't waste this opportunity," Safee told reporters at the FA of Selangor (FAS) head office in Kelana Jaya yesterday.

"It will be a challenging experience as the league in Indonesia is competitive. I hope to help my new club achieve greatness and at the same time, help raise my profile as a player. My dream is to play in better leagues after my stint in Indonesia."

According to the yet-be-signed deal, Safee will re-join Selangor after his contract with Pelita Jaya expires on Jan 31, 2012.

If Pelita, in any case, want to extend his contract, they will need to renegotiate with the FA of Selangor (FAS). It is learnt that Safee has been offered an attractive deal, believed to be in the region of US$10,000 (RM30,360)-a-month, which is much higher than what he's getting with Selangor.

Safee, who wears No 10 for Selangor and the national team, will also wear the same number for his new club.

"I first wore No 10 when I was with the Sarawak team. The team manager felt I should wear No 10 as I reminded him of Mokhtar Dahari.

"Ever since then I've been wearing No 10 and, somehow, it has made me a better player. I hope it will also bring me luck in Indonesia," added Safee, who made his debut in the M-League with Kuala Lumpur.

The striker is aware that he will be a marked man, from both the fans and rival teams, after his exploits in the AFC Cup where he helped the national team lift the trophy for the first time.

"I will need to keep a low profile in Indonesia as the fans and media are passionate about their football. But I am confident I will be well taken care of by my club," said Safee, who has won everything except the Malaysia Cup in the M-League.

He also stressed that his commitment to the national team will continue. "I have discussed this with national coach K. Rajagobal and he has also given his blessing. We do not have many international assignments except for the World Cup Qualifiers. I will definitely be available," he said.

On his expectations in Indonesia, Safee hopes to help Pelita Jaya make impact in ISL's second round which starts early next month.

"Pelita wanted me because they do not have a goal-poacher in their squad. I hope to contribute significantly to help them achieve something in the second round," he said.

Safee's deal with Pelita was negotiated by FAS and according to its secretary general Datuk Hamidin Amin, three other Selangor players had also received offers from Indonesian clubs.

"We rejected other offers as we had already released Safee. However, I informed these clubs to make another offer after the M-League season ends in October," said Hamidin, adding that the other offers were also for players, who donned national colours in the AFC Cup.

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Squash: Azlan strikes paydirt

Posted: 07 Feb 2011 04:33 PM PST

Devinder Singh

Azlan Iskandar is edging closer to his dream of cracking into the top 10 in the world.

Azlan Iskandar is edging closer to his dream of cracking into the top 10 in the world.

AZLAN Iskandar claimed his first PSA Tour title of the season when he beat Egypt's Hisham Ashour in the Bluenose Classic final in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Sunday.

The second-seeded Azlan edged closer to the world's top 10 after his 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7 win over Ashour in only his second tournament of the year.

World No 13 Azlan and Ashour traded the first two games before the Malaysian nicked ahead in the decisive third game after the Egyptian conceded a stroke on the second game ball.

The fourth game was evenly balanced until 7-7 when three tins by Ashour handed Azlan his fifth win over the World No 17 in six meetings.

After winning the Irish Open and Malaysian Open on the PSA Tour, the Asian Games gold medal and reaching the Commonwealth Games semi-finals, Azlan's hunger for success has not diminished.

"Obviously, winning something after the Asian Games is big to me," said Azlan in an e-mail to Timesport yesterday.

"It shows that I'm not content with that result and I still have my targets for 2011.

"I'm definitely getting closer to the top 10. I not only need a good string of results but also decent draws as I'm not in favour of the new ranking system in tournaments.

"Beating Hisham now is pretty good as he's been playing really well of late and has had good wins over a few big players on the tour and has shot up the rankings from 27 to 16 this month."

Azlan had plenty of support from back home and credited the messages of support for keeping his spirits high.

"I'd like to thank a few people for supporting me from home this week by text messages and phone calls and all Malaysians who have been supporting me via Twitter.

"I'd like to dedicate this win to the Armed Forces, who I have just joined, and to show that the Malaysian army is something worth enrolling in."

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