‘YOU ARE MAKING A MISTAKE’
Former international says Malaysia coach shouldn’t recall Safiq and Co
DATUK Santokh Singh feels that new national coach Eduardo Vingada is making a mistake in recalling four players. “They decided to retire when the national team needed them most. They acted irresponsibly,” said Santokh.
FORMER international Datuk Santokh Singh has questioned new national coach Eduardo Vingada for his selection of players for next month’s Asian Cup qualifier against Lebanon.
Santokh feels that Vingada has made a mistake by recalling Safiq Rahim, Amirulhadi Zainal, Aidil Zafuan Radzak and S. Kunanlan for national duty.
The quartet, who are from Darul Ta’zim, rocked the nation last July by announcing their retirement from international football, citing personal reasons.
Their decision had then left coach Ong Kim Swee with a headache as they were core players. It led to Malaysia’s poor showing in the AFF Cup last November.
In March, the four players stated their willingness to return to the national team but did not disclose their reasons for retiring last year.
“Those who let the country down should never again be considered for international duty. They decided to retire when the national team needed them most. They acted irresponsibly,” Santokh, a former international centre-back, told Timesport yesterday.
“The coach shouldn’t have picked them. Why are they being considered again? What are the reasons? I think the four should act responsibly and not report for duty.
“The quartet had failed to honour the national jersey. I labelled them as players who have no pride and integrity. Footballers in Malaysia are replaceable and the coach should scout other talents.”
Vingada selected 26 players for the opening Asian Cup qualifying match against Lebanon on June 13. However, one-third of the team are those in their 30s.
National captain Amri Yahyah, at 36, is the oldest player in the training squad, followed by Safee Sali (33), Shahrom Abdul Kalam and Azamuddin Akil (both 32), Amirulhadi Zainal and S. Kunanlan (both 31), S. Chanturu, Safiq Rahim and Aidil Zafuan Radzak (all 30).
Kedah midfielder Baddrol Bakhtiar and defender Khairul Helmi Johari will turn 30 next year.
Vingada’s selection of older players goes against the football revolution started by former coach K. Rajagobal, who depended on young players to win the 2010 AFF Cup.
The trainees, except for those from Darul Ta’zim who are preparing for Wednesday’s AFC Cup zonal semi-final match, reported to Vingada at Sri Gelam in Johor Baru yesterday.
“There are many young players with talent in Malaysia. Vingada should start exposing them instead of relying on players who are old. Anyway, I wish the Portuguese the best of luck,” said Santokh, who missed the opportunity to play in the 1980 Moscow Olympics after Malaysia boycotted the Games.
On whether a foreign coach is better than a local coach, Santokh said: “Foreigners are disciplined in all aspects and are knowledgeable in terms of tactics.
“But I would not say that they are better. Our locals are also good. It all boils down to the players’ acceptance and discipline.
“You can bring the best coaches here but if the players have no discipline then I am sorry to say that it will fail,” Santokh added.
The composition of the team picked by Vingada also shows that the national team are still reliant on those who were formerly under the now-defunct Young Tigers programme.
The team have 10 players from the programme, founded in 2007, but was dissolved in November, 2015 following pressure from the clubs while some were under Rajagobal when he was coaching the national under-19 team between 2004-06.