PETALING JAYA: What a double blow!
National skipper Safiq Rahim and his Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) team-mate Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Razak have quit the national football team.
The JDT stalwarts’ surprise announcement was posted on the Southern Tigers’ official Facebook page on Tuesday.
Attacking midfielder Safiq has 66 international caps and 16 goals to his credit. He played a pivotal role in Malaysia’s 2009 SEA Games gold medal achievement with the Under-23 squad and lifted the AFF Suzuki Cup with the senior team in 2010.
“The time has come for me to retire from the national team and give opportunities to other players,” said the Kuala Selangor local.
“I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you very much to everyone who has supported me during my time with the national team, especially the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and the coaches as well as local football supporters.”
Safiq had also won several individual accolades – the Golden Boot at the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup with six goals and the AFC Cup’s Most Valuable Player award in 2015.
The 28-year-old Aidil, who has made 68 appearances with the Harimau Malaysia since his debut in 2007, said he “is proud of his achievement with the national team”.
“I’m proud to have accomplished several achievements during my time with the national team, including winning gold at the 2009 SEA Games, playing at the 2004 AFC Youth Championship qualifiers, the 2008 Olympics and many more.
“I also want to say thank you to all local football fans, the national coaches and FAM for their support,” he said.
Aidil skippered the national team in the absence of the injured Safiq during the three-match Oceania Tour last month.
Their retirement will surely be felt by national coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee, who has two major assignments coming up – the AFF Suzuki Cup (Nov 19-Dec 17) and the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers next year.