PETALING JAYA: “I’m sorry,” says national football team skipper Safiq Rahim.
The Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) midfielder has apologised to football fans for the national team’s disgraceful performance in the 6-0 thrashing by Palestine in their 2018 World Cup qualifying match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.
“On behalf of the whole team, we are deeply sorry to all Malaysians as we have let the nation down by this embarrassing loss,” said an emotional Safiq.
“I hope that whoever represents the country after this will not allow a repeat of this kind of loss.”
Safiq admitted that his team-mates failed to put up a creditable performance and lacked “fighting spirit” when the chips were down.
“Yes, we did not have the fighting spirit ... and this maybe is one of our weak points.
“We tried to compete and we even tried to score but when we failed to take our chances ... we just collapsed as a team.”
Asked if he would represent the national team again, he replied: “If I’m given another chance after this, I will definitely give my full commitment.”
National coach Dollah Salleh has said that he would ring in the changes and bring in new faces, including some of the Singapore SEA Games Under-23 squad players, to replace the seniors for their next match – away to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sept 3.
Malaysia drew 1-1 with Timor Leste in their opening Asian Zone second round Group A campaign at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last Thursday.
The national team’s second phase of training will be from July 14-23.
This will be followed by a friendly against English Premier League club Liverpool at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on July 24.
The third phase of training, from Aug 23-Sept 19, is to prepare for the qualifying matches against the UAE on Sept 3 at home and Saudi Arabia away on Sept 8.
The return matches against Timor Leste will be on Oct 13, Palestine (Nov 12), UAE (Nov 17) and Saudi Arabia (March 24).