Shukor makes way for younger generation
Despite narrowly missing out on the glory of lifting the AFF Suzuki Cup, Malaysia captain Shukor Adan has insisted that he will not be returning to international duty following the conclusion of the tournament.
Malaysia came within eight minutes of winning the ASEAN title for a second time in four years on Saturday when they staged a remarkable comeback at Bukit Jalil Stadium to turn around a 2-0 deficit from the first leg with a Safiq Rahim brace and an Indra Putra Mahayuddin header.
However, late goals by Charyl Chappuis and Chanathip Songkrasin saw the Thais stage a dramatic comeback of their own to win the tie 4-3 on aggregate and take the trophy back to Bangkok for the first time in 12 years.
Shukor received a surprise international recall in September at the age of 35 from coach Dollah Salleh but he insisted that he would not be making any more comebacks for Harimau Malaya.
"I have to retire," said the Felda United player. "I decided that this would be my last tournament and I am not changing my mind now.
"I came back out of my respect for Dollah Salleh and to serve Malaysia and I am proud to see that the Malaysia fans have been behind us all the way."
According to Shukor, who began the tournament in central midfield before moving to the centre of defence, Malaysia's near-miss was a vindication of Dollah's decision to recall veterans like himself for the tournament.
"There were a lot of people who criticised coach Dollah and his decision to bring the older players back into the team and I am glad that we had the chance to prove them wrong," he said.
"However, it is time now for the next generation of Malaysian players to step up and take over."
One of the players likely to take over the leadership mantle of the Malaysia squad is Safiq Rahim, who skippered the Tigers to victory in 2010 before being replaced as captain earlier this year.
However, the 27-year-old more than proved his value to the team during the tournament, winning the top scorer award with six goals, four of which came from penalties in crucial match situations.
"I'm very shocked because I never expected this and it was a nice achievement for me in my career to win the top scorer award," said the midfielder, who felt a mixture of pride and disappointment as he clutched his award.
"The crowd tonight was fantastic because they gave us very good support. They cheered harder so we tried to play harder and I must thank them for that.
"Now we just have to move forward with our next assignment for Malaysia."