Aidil shocks Malaysia with international retirement

Malaysia vice-captain Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak has quit the national team, a day after Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim slammed the Tigers’ training schedule. 

Malaysia centre-back Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak has decided to cut his international career short despite only turning 29next month

Aidil, who has represented the country since 2007, made the announcement on Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) Facebook page on Tuesday, citing the desire to see his younger compatriots take over the baton in marshalling the Malaysia back four.

“I would live to provide opportunities to younger players to represent the country in future matches,” read Aidil’s statement.

“I am very proud of being able to help accomplish 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 would also like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and say thank you to all local football fans, the national coaches and the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) management for supporting my career throughout my time with the national team.”

The news comes as blow to Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee, who was working on the Aidil-Shahrom Kalam partnership in recent month.

Shahrom, who turns 31 in September, will be expected to lead the back four at the AFF Suzuki Cup later this year.

Fadhli Shas was the only other natural centre-back in the squad during the recent Oceania Tour and Asian Cup qualifying playoff, although Junior Eldstal and Khair Jones have appeared in the heart of defence for their respective clubs.

Former Harimau Muda defender Shahrul Saad could return to the squad while Ong may even be tempted to recall Selangor defender Razman Roslan to add experience.

Aidil’s retirement comes fresh after JDT owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim voiced his displeasure over the national team’s Oceania Tour.

“According to the report that I've received from our players and fitness coach, the players only had 11-12 days of training throughout their 30 day tour with the national team. From the 19th-28th of June, they only had four days of training sessions compared to JDT that had conducted 19 sessions over the same period of time,” Tunku Ismail alleged.

“That is the reason why they are injury prone. If the players' injuries happen during games and they are roughed up, I can accept it, but if injuries are due to the lack of training, I cannot tolerate it. This happens because the national team does not maintain and follow the proper momentum and 'high intensity' fitness training that is necessary,”

Football Association of Malaysia and Ong have yet to respond to both Aidil’s resignation and Tunku Ismail’s criticism.