Five Questions With Saiful Jamaludin

Photo: Andrew Him

Aaron Chan
Writer / Editor
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

Saiful Jamaludin is fast becoming a household name in the NFL with his consistent performances for Kembangan United, most recently scoring four goals in a league match against Academy Junior Football in Division 2.
The striker's fine displays for the Golden Horses have not gone unnoticed as he is reportedly on Balestier Khalsa's radar and S.League fans may soon be able to catch him in action for the Tigers.

We catch up with the soft-spoken player who is making big waves on the pitch.

5 Questions with Saiful Jamaludin:

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your playing history? Did you go through the COE system or were you discovered while playing social football?

A: I started my football journey when I was scouted while playing for my school team to join Home United's Under-16s. Following that I moved to Balestier Khalsa's Under-18s when I turned 17.

At the age of 18, i thought of going back to the Protectors but I was called up by PN Sivaji to go for trials with the National Football Academy U-18 and I was selected to be a part of the squad. Following that I was called up for National Service (NS) and I had to stop playing for two years.

Upon completing my NS in 2012, I returned to Home United to play in the Prime League team for one season before I stopped playing again. Honestly, I thought that I wasn't good enough to make it into the S.League so I decided to look for a job while playing in the NFL.

My journey in the NFL actually started with Eunos Crescent. I played with them in Division 1 for 3 seasons but by the end of the third year I felt that I did not achieve much and decided to start afresh from the bottom once again. That was when I joined Kembangan United in 2016, who were playing in the Island-Wide League (IWL). We enjoyed a good season which saw us being promoted to the NFL Division 2 after the Football Association announced that the IWL would be replaced by the latter at the end of last season.

Q: You are known affectionately around the Kembangan dressing room as 'Cainathip' - a nod to your playing style which is similar to Thai wizard Chanathip Songkrasin. Could you tell us the story behind this interesting nickname?

The nickname was coined by (Kembangan United) Club President Albert Ng. He was the one who started calling me 'Cainathip' and now everyone calls me that.

Photo: Andrew Him

Q: Which team did you support when you were growing up and who was your inspiration for playing football? Do you have a favourite S.League team as well?

My favourite team is Manchester United. I loved watching them play when they still had David Beckham in the side. Growing up as an aspiring footballer, he was my inspiration back then. His crosses were simply out of this world and I've always looked up to him. When I was younger, I always tried emulating his distribution and crosses until my coach made me do only crossing and free-kicks during training while the others did some other forms of training.

My favourite S.League team is Home United, especially so when Sutee Suksomkit was still playing for the Protectors. Not only was he a speedy player, his technique and delivery were simply awesome.

Q: For many footballers, it must be a dream working with such a legend like D. Tokijan. How does it feel to train under him and what are the values he brings to Kembangan?

It's always inspirational to train under such a big name and it pushes you to work harder on the pitch. For me though, I always strive to do my best regardless of whichever coach I'm playing under. My mentor before Coach Tokijan was Robert Lim and both had different styles of training. I don't really mind whoever my coach is as I always try my best to learn as much as I can from them.

Q: Fun Question; Which players or officials have weird pre-match rituals in Kembangan United?

That has to be my captain, Farhan Musa! He talks a lot, that's his ritual before matches. He will talk non-stop but the good thing is that he constantly reminds us what we need to do on the pitch. While it's rather annoying, it certainly helps psyche up the team when we step out onto the pitch, haha!