Bai says hi again to LionsXII

Baihakki Khaizan (right), assistant captain of the LionsXII with teammates (from left) Shahfiq Ghani, Khairuldin Khalid and Faris Ramli during a training session at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

SINGAPORE - National footballer Baihakki Khaizan has agreed terms to rejoin the LionsXII for the remainder of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) season.

The centre-back's return after half a season away with Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) was confirmed after the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) scrambled to register him before yesterday's deadline set by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM).

"We confirm that Baihakki Khaizan has agreed terms with the FAS and will rejoin the LionsXII for the rest of the season," said an FAS spokesman.

"However, his move is not official yet because we are waiting for the Football Association of Malaysia to give the green light."

Should he be cleared to play, he could feature for the LionsXII as early as their away match against Terengganu next Saturday.

A relieved Baihakki, 30, said: "All I want to do now is get back to playing football."

The return of the aerially dominant, 1.9m-tall centre-back will be a welcome boost for Fandi Ahmad's team.

Currently sixth in the 12-team MSL, seven points adrift of leaders Pahang, the defending champions have conceded 15 goals in 14 league outings - as many as they did in the whole of last season's title-winning campaign.

Signing for JDT this campaign, Baihakki was a regular starter until the shock decision to de-register him last month.

A loan move back to Jalan Besar was mooted but FAM rejected it as the player was still contracted as a foreign player with JDT and the transfer window for foreigners had closed.

But the deal was sealed after Baihakki had his four-year contract, said to be worth $30,000 a month, terminated by mutual consent.

He thanked Johor Crown Prince and JDT president Tunku Ismail Idris for letting him go in pursuit of regular football.

He said: "He was aware of the one-week period set by the FAM, and I appreciate his understanding of the situation by releasing me from my contract.

"He knows my main concern is to get as much football under my belt as I can to stay in contention for the AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Suzuki Cup later this year on home soil.

"I was part of the squad who won it the last time, and I want to be a part of the title defence in front of our home fans."

This article was published on May 7 in The Straits Times.

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