Football: Baihakki, Shahril could leave Johor Darul Takzim II

Defender Baihakki Khaizan (above) and playmaker Shahril Ishak are two of the most experienced players in the 25-man Singapore squad for the upcoming friendly matches against Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Defender Baihakki Khaizan (above) and playmaker Shahril Ishak are two of the most experienced players in the 25-man Singapore squad for the upcoming friendly matches against Malaysia and Hong Kong.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Defender Baihakki Khaizan and playmaker Shahril Ishak (above) are two of the most experienced players in the 25-man Singapore squad for the upcoming friendly matches against Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Defender Baihakki Khaizan and playmaker Shahril Ishak (above) are two of the most experienced players in the 25-man Singapore squad for the upcoming friendly matches against Malaysia and Hong Kong.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Tunku Ismail says on the club website 'they will not be a part of our project for next year'

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the club futures of Baihakki Khaizan and Shahril Ishak, both of whom play their football across the Causeway at Johor Darul Takzim II (JDT II).

In a post published on the club's website and Facebook page, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim - Crown Prince of Johor and chairman of the club - hinted that the two veteran Singapore internationals would be released at the end of the season after their contracts expire.

He said in the post: "Regarding the Singaporean players, I allowed our two senior players to report early (for national team training which started last Saturday) because... they will not be a part of our project for next year.

"I thank them for their dedication and professionalism."

While the post did not name the players, it can be inferred that Tunku Ismail was referring to Baihakki and Shahril, both of whom are 32 years old and play for the Malaysia Premier League (second tier) team.

  • 259

  • Number of caps between Singapore’s Shahril Ishak and Baihakki Khaizan.

With a total of 259 caps between them, Baihakki and Shahril are two of the most experienced players in the 25-strong Lions squad that has been named for the upcoming friendlies against Malaysia (Friday) and Hong Kong (Oct 11).

In that same account, Tunku Ismail also added that he had sought Singapore national caretaker coach V. Sundramoorthy's permission for Hariss Harun to join the Lions' training a few days later, yesterday to be exact.

Last December, Shahril, Singapore's skipper, had extended his contract with JDT II by a year. Baihakki is currently on the final leg of his three-year deal.

JDT sports director Alistair Edwards said that it is "not 100 per cent confirmed" that the club have decided to not renew the players' contracts.

That outcome will be finalised only after a meeting with Tunku Ismail at a later date.

Edwards said: "They are fantastic and good players. But we will have to wait until they come back, and then they will sit down to discuss with (Tunku Ismail)."

He explained that the club will be looking to develop their younger players by giving them more opportunities to play matches.

He said: "As JDT II are the feeder squad to JDT, we want to give more opportunities to expose our younger players to senior-level competitions and develop them.

"I've spoken to Bai and he knows this.

"Still, we also cannot go entirely on all young players, and we will need senior players around them."

Both Baihakki and Shahril could not be reached for comment.

But the talk could whet the appetite of S-League teams, who may consider signing the two veterans should they be released by the Malaysian club.

After all, as Tampines Rovers' coach Akbar Nawas noted: "Shahril is a playmaker and he is intelligent. Bai is a leader at the back. They are both experienced players."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2016, with the headline 'Baihakki, Shahril could leave JDT II'. Print Edition | Subscribe