Baihakki Khaizan: Looking for one more shot at glory

Veteran Baihakki Khaizan is well known for helping Singapore to three regional titles but the defender has a surprisingly empty trophy cabinet at the club level...

Tucked in the recent collections of Baihakki Khaizan’s social media Instagram posts laid a lone ‘selfie’, as he stood in the path of oncoming vehicles in the middle of an empty road, with his hands stretched out for the perfect photo.

All along with the caption that hit home – ‘I feel that I am aging’.

At the age of 33, this certainly rang true for one of Singapore’s most popular footballers, as he will most probably conclude his career in a few years’ time.

And for the three ASEAN Football Championships and a memorable Malaysia Super League that he has won so far, Baihakki might actually hang up his foots without achieving much in Singapore’s very own S.League.

The empty cabinet

From 2003-2009, Baihakki was an upcoming young defender and was soon on the radar of Indonesian teams.

He would eventually go on to play for Persija Jakarta, Persib Bandung and Medan Chiefs in a span of four years before returning to Singapore with LionsXII to play in the Malaysia Super League.

Baihakki finally landed his first club honours when he helped the LionsXII lift the MSL trophy in 2013, before being snapped up by an overseas team once again, this time by Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).

Bai finally won his first club trophy in 2013

But silverware once again eluded him, as Baihakki was unceremoniously demoted to JDT II before being released in 2016.

“It is understandable (that my trophy cabinet is quite empty). It has been quite a few good years out of Singapore that I have ventured,” Baihakki told FourFourTwo.

“I went abroad to gain exposure in football. I didn’t have many major trophies in the S.League. Furthest I got to winning a trophy was with my first year in Geylang (the Eagles finished runners-up both in the league and Singapore Cup to Home United).”

Being back in the S.League

Now, with time running out after spending a total of eight years out of the S.League, Baihakki aims to claim at least one local title after signing for Warriors FC this season, before hanging up his boots for good.

Bai is hoping to taste some glory with Warriors

“Given that (I have not won a trophy in Singapore), I would love to win something,” Baihakki said.

“Given the little time I had with Geylang and Young Lions before I started playing overseas, I hope I can win something here.”

“Now that I am back, I want to do better. Warriors have a plan and they want to be in a better position. It is our duty to challenge for the title as we believe that we are good enough and we can compete with Albirex and Home United.”

With all due respect, players should know if they are still able to play and should also be well respected

Surprisingly, Baihakki shared with FourFourTwo that when he eventually hangs up his boots, it might not possibly be on his terms.

The 129-capped defender already suffered such a fate at the international level, with Singapore head coach V.Sundramoorthy telling him that his services were no longer required.

“For me, I don’t wish to pick a day (to retire) but the same old problem here (in Singapore football) is that the coaches tell us when to retire, not us,” the towering centre-back said.

“With all due respect, players should know if they are still able to play and should also be well respected because they are putting in the same effort.

“They still have good maintenance of their own body. Although they might be old and slow, they should be shown the same value and respect as new talents — but this doesn’t happen in our region.”

He will only play for country, not coach

While it did hurt him initially, Bai said he has since made peace with Sundram’s decision to cut him from the national team.

“It’s OK. He has his choices. By doing that (axing him), if it makes him happy, then so be it. If he has something personal against me, even if I scored and assisted 200 goals also, I won’t get the call up,” the 129-cap stopper said.

“For me, I have always played for the country and I never played for my coach, if he has a problem with me, then so be it.”