Former Malaysia skipper Safiq Rahim has not ruled out the possibility of coming out of international retirement in the near future. The Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) captain, who retired along with his Malaysia Super League club teammates Aidil Zafuan , S Kunanlan and Mohd Amirulhadi earlier this year due to a tussle between the club and the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), picked up the best midfielder award at the 2016 Malaysia national football awards on Friday.
Speaking shortly after the award function, the 29-year-old said he would weigh options to make an international comeback sometime in 2017. Notably, the Tigers have been struggling without their top stars and the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup winners crashed out of this year's tournament in the group stages itself.
National team coach Ong Kim Swee has been reiterating the difficulties in assembling a strong squad without the likes of the retired stars. Safiq's decision will come as a big relief to the Harimau Malaysia unit and the football fans in the country but the midfielder's "dream" is to qualify for the AFC Champions League (ACL) group stages with JDT.
The Southern Tigers will ace Bangkok United in the first match of the preliminary round of 31 January and if they manage to win the fixture, they have to beat fourth-placed side from J.League to become the first Malaysian team to qualify for the group stages.
"I do not rule out the possibility of returning to the Malaysia squad but what is important now is to focus on my team first," Safiq said, as quoted by The Star Online.
"It is my goal to play in the ACL before I retire. JDT want us to go to a higher level. I hope this time we will get a positive result, as it is not impossible for us to compete in the ACL."