Football: Baihakki Khaizan, 35, makes U-turn on international retirement to join Lions squad for World Cup qualifiers

Veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan had called time on his international career in March.
Veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan had called time on his international career in March.PHOTO: TRAT SHUTTER

SINGAPORE - Veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan has been handed a recall to the national team by Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida.

The 35-year-old centre-back, who plays in Thailand with top-tier side Trat FC, was among 23 players announced by Yoshida in a media briefing at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday (Aug 27) afternoon.

Baihakki had called time on his international career in March, but will now have an opportunity to add to his 134 caps earned in World Cup qualifying matches against Yemen at the National Stadium on Sept 5, and Palestine at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Sept 10.

Yoshida said he paid Baihakki a visit in the Thai coastal province of Trat in August, and said: "I told him he has the quality and the opportunity to still play in the national team.

"But I said if he does not have the motivation to play for the national team any more, then we will not involve him.

"He said he was motivated, and we so spoke about his (role) in the squad and how he has to earn his position in the starting XI. There are no promises, because there is always competition in our squad."

Head of national teams Eric Ong, who accompanied Yoshida on his trip to Thailand: "When we met Bai, he was very touched that the national coach came all the way there to see him.

"(Yoshida) told Bai he had watched videos of every game he had played for Trat in the last three or four months, and we shared with him that we knew his qualities and what he brought to the team.


Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida announcing his squad for the upcoming World Cup 2022 qualifiers against Yemen and Palestine. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

 
 

There are four uncapped players in Yoshida's squad: goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad, defender Darren Teh, midfielder Hami Syahin, and forward Hazzuwan Halim.

Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny, Izwan Mahbud, Zharfan Rohaizad

Defenders: Amirul Adli, Baihakki Khaizan, Darren Teh, Irfan Fandi, Irwan Shah, Nazrul Nazari, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Zulqarnaen Suzliman

Midfielders: Hami Syahin, Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman, Yasir Hanapi

Forwards: Faris Ramli, Gabriel Quak, Hafiz Nor, Hazzuwan Halim, Ikhsan Fandi, Khairul Amri, Shawal Anuar