Vingada explains Safiq's swift recapture of the Malaysian captain's armband

Despite the criticism that followed his decision to retire from the national team, Safiq Rahim has been handed back the captain's armband upon his return by new coach Nelo Vingada for this week's Asian Cup qualifier against Lebanon. Here Vingada explains the reasons for the decision...

News of Safiq’s reappointment as Harimau Malaya skipper – almost a year after a self-imposed international exit – was greeted by mix responses on Monday.

There were even remarks made on social media labelling him a “traitor” and a “sell-out”. Yet for Vingada, the past held little weight in his decision making.

The Portuguese explained at the pre-match press conference just why Safiq will lead the Tigers out of the tunnel at Larkin Stadium on Tuesday.

We are not playing at a top level. We are weak in some instances, but we have our strengths too

- Nelo Vingada

“Firstly he has already been a captain of the national team in the past. Usually when I arrived at any new team, I will talk to my staff and gather information,” said Vingada.

“I was looking at players with the most caps that will start tomorrow and are of leadership material.

"Safiq had that and he will be my extension on the field. He knows how to do that.”

Vingada admitted that a tough task lies ahead against Lebanon and the other teams – North Korea and Hong Kong – in the group, but he wanted Malaysia to first focus on itself.

Safiq back in the fold once more

Having never seen the players in action prior to the national camp a fortnight ago, Vingada felt there were areas that could be used as a strength. He also praised the attitude of his charges.

“The most important (thing) tomorrow is not to know Lebanon, but rather it is to know us and what we can do,” said Vingada.

“They have good players playing outside the country and the way they play with physical contact makes them perhaps stronger, but it is important to talk about our team when I speak to the players these two days.

I expect my team to get another good result … yes, a draw will be good considering it is an away tie

- Miodrag Radulovic

“We are not playing at a top level. We are weak in some instances, but we have our strengths too. I know the reality and level of our team but we are here to fight for the Asian Cup spot.

"I am greatly motivated with the challenges in Malaysia.”

His Lebanon counterpart Miodrag Radulovic was expecting Malaysia to put up a good fight following changes in administration, coaches and players.

The Montenegrin wants to pick up a second win in the qualifiers after defeating Hong Kong 2-0, but admitted that a draw would be a good result.

“We will be out to repeat the win against Hong Kong. I saw a good performance and I expect my team to get another good result … yes, a draw will be good considering it is an away tie.”

He also revealed that the Malaysia Super League's (MSL) leading scorer Mohamed Ghaddar, a regular in previous squads, was omitted out because the new JDT signing did not want to play for the country.

Photos: Asiana.my