Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) head coach Raul Longhi has denied any rift between him and Safiq Rahim, after the midfielder looked to have been reduced to a fringe player due to limited game time.
Longhi said the reason Safiq has not featured in recent matches is purely down to fitness issues.
“Several parties are making assumptions that I have issues with Safiq Rahim. It is not true at all. Safiq is a good player, he is now injured and needs to improve on his fitness,” said Longhi on the club’s Facebook page.
The Argentine also clarified he is not the sole individual who makes the decisions in the team.
Ada beberapa pihak yang cuba membuat andaian mengatakan saya ada masalah dengan Safiq Rahim, ia adalah tidak benar sama…
“If all of you say that I am the one picking the starting line-up all this while, or any coaches who worked at JDT before, you’re wrong. At JDT, decisions are made by HRH TMJ as the club owner, the Sports Director, the Technical Director, my assistant and myself.” he added.
”This is why many coaches come and go but the team still goes on to win because the team does not rely on just the coaches but also a family sporting spirit and one individual who stands behind all of us.
“All JDT players know who they are playing for. They are playing for their beloved family, the club and The Boss.”
Safiq’s absence has not affected JDT’s steady march to a fifth consecutive Malaysia Super League title.
The Southern Tigers can already put one arm around the trophy after taking an unassailable 11 point lead with seven matches remaining.
Singapore midfielder Hariss Harun has assumed the captain’s armband in Safiq’s absence and marshaled the midfield well.
New Argentine attacker Fernando Elizari is also developing into an influential playmaker in the team after some outstanding performances, so Safiq will have to fight for his place when he returns to full fitness.
JDT will host Terengganu FA when the league resumes after the short Hari Raya break next Wednesday.