20 February 2011

Shahrazen's passage to India

Brunei striker to play for India's Sporting Clube de Goa.

SHAHRAZEN Hj Md Said will become the first local footballer to ply his trade abroad when he leaves to join India's Sporting Clube de Goa today.

No stranger to creating history, the prolific striker has finally decided to test foreign shores after famously spurning various clubs in the region since DPMM FC's campaign in the Singapore League (S-League) came to a close in October 2009.

Handed a three-month contract by the India League's (I-League) Second Division side mid-way through their season, the 25-year-old Bruneian has been tasked with helping the team earn promotion back to the top flight.

"If they think I'm good they will give me a contract for the next season," he told The Brunei Times on Friday.

"The club used to be in the First Division and they're looking for a striker to help them get back (to the top flight). I won't have to go through any trials or anything I'm going to play straight away.

"It's my first time going to India so I'm excited and nervous. I'm also scared since I don't know much about the environment in Goa and the club.

"I don't even know the language. If they speak English it's alright, but what if they don't?

"I can't say how long it will take for me to adjust, but all I can say is that I want to try fit in as soon as possible. I think fitness shouldn't be a problem. I'm 90 per cent fit since DPMM FC haven't stopped training as a club.

"I'm proud that I have become the first Bruneian to play abroad but I ask myself if I will be able to compete with the Indians or not ...

"The next three months will be important," he stressed.

Finishing joint top scorer during the 2006/07 Malaysian Super League (MSL) season with 21 goals, Shahrazen also led DPMM FC in scoring during their debut S-League season in 2008/09 by bulging the net nine times.

Brunei's only professional club, DPMM FC became the first foreign team to win the Singapore League Cup in June 2009 and Shahrazen said that capturing the trophy and being named the MSL joint top scorer ranked as his most memorable moments in the sport.

The hitman has been courted by Malaysian giants Selangor and Pahang in the past, with Indonesian Super League side Persiba Balikpapan and Singapore League outfit Balestier Khalsa FC also having expressed interest in his services.

However, he denied them all, saying that the time was not right.

Though he might not know much about his new club at least he can get some pointers about the league and country from Keita Mandjou, the Guinean who tied Shahrazen in scoring during the 2006/07 MSL season and who is currently at I-League's First Division side Pune FC.

Created in the mould of Portuguese side Sporting Clube de Portugal or more commonly known as Sporting Lisbon Sporting Clube de Goa were formed in 1999.

Making their debut in the Indian National Football League Premier Division the predecessor of the I-League during the 2003/04 season, Sporting Clube de Goa have enjoyed some success in the First Division where they finished ahead of more established clubs in the country.

Shahrazen said he heard the club were looking for a striker to revive their fortunes through a Malaysian agent early last week.

Though the club have not seen Shahrazen in action, his resume impressed them enough to sign him.

Obstacles such as getting an international transfer certificate (ITC), a visa and leave from his employers he works as a storekeeper at the Department of Public Works (JKR) sorted themselves out as the week progressed.

"At first I thought I couldn't go because Brunei doesn't have a football association which is recognised internationally so it would be hard for me to get an ITC," said the hitman, referring to the document which enables a player to transfer from one club to another.

"I thought that since there was no umbrella body for Bruneian footballers I couldn't play abroad, but the agent took care of everything and I got the ITC direct from Fifa.

"DPMM FC, the Department of Youth and Sports and the JKR have been with me all the way. So I would like to thank the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports as well as the Ministry of Development and the Department of Civil Services for making this work out.

"Most importantly, my family has been really, really supportive especially my wife who is expecting our third child. My leave is until April 30 so I should be back before my wife is due."

Whether Shahrazen makes his mark in Goa or if his contract will be extended is for anyone to guess. But one thing is for sure his potential will never be fully realised if he stays in Brunei and hopefully his move will be the spark that local footballers need to test their luck abroad.The Brunei Times

Brunei Times

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