By Khidhir Kassim
The Malaysian football season officially came to a close on Tuesday as the FAM presented awards to the best players of 2012 in a grand ceremony in Shah Alam, with the winners drawn from votes of Super League and Premier League coaches.
However, attention was quickly drawn to Baihakki when he queried the nomination system on his personal Twitter account, although the Singapore international believes the players recognised on Tuesday were the rightful winners.
"It's an enjoyable pastime but don't take [what people say on] Twitter too seriously mate." said the 28-year-old who has close to 50,000 followers. "Whatever the case, they were deserving winners.
"[Kelantan forward] Norshahrul Idlan Talaha would have been my pick for Most Valuable Player as well. He is a complete striker, his intelligent movement off the ball constantly creates trouble for any defensive line and his finishing is extremely clinical.
When asked on his thoughts about LIONSXII's first year in Malaysian football, which saw them finish second in the Super League and reach the semi-finals of the Malaysia Cup, Baihakki expressed his belief that it had been a successful year but believes there needs to be more support from the stands.
"I think this has been a good debut season for the LIONSXII with a runner up spot in the league, the FA Cup quarter-final and the Malaysia Cup semi-final," he added.
"The boys have given their blood, sweat and tears for Singapore this season and it showed.
"After having played three seasons for three different clubs in Indonesia, I have come to a point where I appreciate the rivalry between fans. This is what football needs, the excitement from the intensity of thousands of screaming fans supporting their team. I welcome the online adulation but I yearn for the physical show of support."
"A majority of any Indonesian football match would see around 40,000 fans packing the stadiums. The Singapore-Malaysia rivalry is good but it will be awhile longer before we start to see a similar crowd."
The classy centre-back also played down the notorious rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia and said: "The fans may have their say, but as players we are friends off the pitch. I bonded well with Safee Sali during our stint there."
"My fascination with Malaysian football was started during the glory days when Singapore was involved. My season may have been good but I will not stop improving myself - I want to stamp my mark on the Malaysian Super League next year."
Regarded as one of the best defenders in the Super League this season, Baihakki ignited the LIONSXII campaign with a goal against defending champions Kelantan FA in the debut match and another one against Kedah FA in front of a capacity home crowd on both occasions. One of the few LIONSXII players heavily linked with a move to a Super League club, only time will tell which team he finally chooses to defend for next season.
By Khidhir Kassim