Aidil Zafuan, Safiq Rahim confirm retirement from international football

Harimau Malaysia captain Safiq Rahim and vice-captain Aidil Zafuan have shocked the Malaysian football scene with a decision to call it quits on their international careers.

Safiq Rahim and Aidil Zafuan have earned 66 caps and 68 caps respectively since 2007.

The Johor Darul Ta’azim (JDT) central defender believes the younger generation of the country must step up in order to fight for his place as soon as the AFF Suzuki Cup is over, whereas Safiq Rahim has asked the senior players to guide the youth in years to come.

Photo Credit: Goal
Photo Credit: Goal

“I would like to give opportunities to younger players to represent the country in future matches, “Aidil Zafuan said as quoted on Johor Southern Tigers’ Facebook profile.

“I am very proud of being able to help accomplish several achievements during my time with the national team, including winning a gold medal at the 2009 SEA Games, playing at the 2004 AFC Youth Championship qualifiers, the 2008 Olympic Games and many more.

Safiq Rahim announced his decision shortly after Aidil Zafuan earlier today.

Safiq Rahim

“The time has come for me to retire from the national team and give opportunities to others.

“The achievements accomplished such as helping the Under-23 national team win gold at the 2009 SEA Games and becoming the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup with the senior team will surely inspire the next generations of footballers to give more positive results to the country.”

The both of them went on to thank Football Association Malaysia (FAM) and all the coaches.

Photo Credit: NST
Photo Credit: NST

National team head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee has been using the past few months on developing a formidable defensive relationship between Aidil Zafuan and Selangor skipper Shahrom Kalam. However, he will now have a tough time finding the perfect replacement.

The likes of Fadhli Shas, Junior Eldstal and Khair Jones have featured under Ong Kim Swee since the beginning of his managerial reign and Perak defender Shahrul Saad was surprisingly left out of his squad during the Asian Cup play-off matches against Timor-Leste last month.

He will also need to reshuffle his midfield as Safiq Rahim has been the core of it for seven years. Brendan Gan, Amirulhadi Zainal and Baddrol Bakhtiar are the obvious choices for a three-man midfield partnership but the emergence of Amirul Hisyam Kechik and Abdul Latiff Suhaimi as well as the experience of Nazmi Faiz will cause a headache for Ong Kim Swee.

Safiq Rahim and Aidil Zafuan have been great servants and their services will be missed.

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