Open-minded Harry Sawyer hopes to follow Asian path walked by Aussies before...

Open-minded Harry Sawyer hopes to follow Asian path walked by Aussies before him

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Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong.

They’re not exactly massive names when it comes to world football, even in Asia, some way behind the lights of China, Japan and South Korea.

But in the past decade, those smaller nations have shown themselves as lands of opportunity for Australian players.

And case studies show that those who have tried their hands there have come out the other end as better players and with bigger profiles.

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Malaysia in particular has been productive. Andrew Nabbout and Joel Chianese both landed there in need of rejuvenation, and that is exactly what they both got.

Nabbout returned to the A-League and continued to rise with Newcastle Jets, entrenching himself as a key Socceroo and earning a big-money move to J-League heavyweights Urawa Red Diamonds.

Chianese meanwhile found his way to Perth Glory where, eventually, he played a key role in the club’s first ever premiership in the season just concluded and what he hopes will be a maiden championship.

A Newcastle teammate of Nabbout’s, striker Harry Sawyer, struggled to find his feet in the Hunter and managed just five appearances in Jets colours.

He had to think differently and after a short stay back in NPL Queensland found his way to the Philippines with Davao Aguilas.

In Sawyer’s first season there – despite signing halfway through the season – he won the club’s Golden Boot with 10 goals, and then made the move to Hong Kong with Tai Po FC.

Just last week, Sawyer became a league champion with the club founded in 2002.

He hopes it can prove just one marker in his mission to build up his still young career in Asia, inspired by Aussies who have traversed the region before him.

“Andrew Nabbout and Joel Chianese, they’re perfect examples of how they went over to Malaysia in the second division there and reinvented their game, flourished and came back as new players,” Sawyer said on Wednesday’s Daily Football Show.

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“I was lucky enough to play with Andrew at Newcastle and the ambition and the drive, moving to Asia, it really worked out for him.

“It shows that can be a route and one I would aim to follow if I can.”

Though the current domestic season has ended, Sawyer and his teammates were made to temper celebrations with more football still to be played.

Next week, Tai Po will travel to Pyongyang, North Korea, for an AFC Cup game against the beautifully named club April 25.

The secretive nation is place Sawyer has experienced already in his time in Asia.

“We actually went there in the qualify stage and we played against the runners-up of the DPRK league about a month ago and it was a very daunting experience,” he added.

“It was something really different and something I would never expect to experience in football, or even after football.

“It’s definitely one to remember.”

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