Safiq Rahim and Safee Sali to have trials with English clubs
The race to get the first Malaysian player to England is on after Cardiff City offered national team captain Safiq Rahim a two-week long trial at the Championship club.
This development comes just a day after Safiq's national teammate Safee Sali was given a similar opportunity by Queen's Park Rangers and the national skipper could be in Cardiff as soon as his involvement with Selangor in the Malaysia Cup is over.
Although there are plenty of obstacles in the way of Safiq actually being signed by Cardiff, not least the issue of a work permit, Cardiff chairman Datuk Chan Tien Ghee believes it is only right that the club offers one of Malaysia's best talents a chance to show his worth.
"We had put it to Safiq to have a trial with us during the international break on Sept 8 when we will be holding a game for several others on trial. We are hoping he can play a part in that match.
"We watched him during (Malaysia's) matches against the English teams and we think he is a fine player. When we spoke to him about it, he seemed really excited about the prospect," said Chan in a telephone interview from Cardiff yesterday.
The Sept 8 trial, however, is unlikely to happen as the Malaysia Cup kicks off two days earlier but Safiq, 24, is understood to be making arrangements to fly to Cardiff in November when he will train with the Welsh club's first team.
Chan said midfielder Safiq, who has also attracted the interest of several Indonesian Super League teams, would have to be patient if he hopes to land a contract with Cardiff.
"We are a Malaysian controlled club and it falls on us to grab this opportunity to give a Malaysian player a trial. If we don't make the first move without actually seeing him here, you never know what the prospects might be.
"There are all kinds of things to sort out but we'll take it step by step," said Chan, referring to the difficulty for a non-European Union player from a country ranked outside's Fifa's top-70 to obtain a work permit in Britain.
On Thursday, QPR owner Tan Sri Tony Fernandes invited Safee, 27, for a trial with the Premier League club with a view to signing a permanent deal. However, Safee too could be stymied by the stringent work permit requirements given Malaysia's Fifa ranking of 146.