BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Just a few hours before Melaka United's round 11 Super League match against fellow promoted side PKNS FC, the Mousedeers' Montenegrin forward Ilija Spasojević announced that he has relinquished his captaincy at the side.
"I would like to announce to all MU (Melaka) fans about my decision to relinquish my captaincy of the team. I have thought about it for a long time, and has told the head coach about it this morning," wrote Spasojević on his social media account on Wednesday.
But he assured the fans that he is fully committed to the club that currently sit just one spot above the relegation zone.
"I always put the interests of the team before my career and want to hand over the responsibility of leading the team to a more deserving player.
"I promise that my dedication remains the same, I'll give my 100% to this team as long as my services are still needed," vowed the former Persib Bandung man.
Rumours are rife that the 29-year old striker, who has been with the club since 2016 in the Premier League, has been at loggerheads with veteran striker Amri Yahyah, ever since the Malaysia international joined the club in pre-season.
According to Melaka's social media, Amri was made captain in the match against PKNS later that evening.
He led the Mousedeers to the 2016 Premier League title and promotion to the Super League following a 10-year absence from the top flight, and emerged as the second division top scorer with 24 goals.
But this season, just before the PKNS league encounter, Spasojević has scored only once in the league.
Spasojević celebrating Melaka United's Premier League title win with his teammates last year. Photo from Football Malaysia LLP Facebook
However, Spasojević quashed all talks of a mid-season departure against PKNS, by scoring both of Melaka's goals in the match which ended in a 2-2 draw.
Interestingly, all four of the goals at the Hang Jebat Stadium came in a period of 10 minutes. Spasojević opened the scoring in the 32nd minute through a penalty, but the visitors came back from behind through Patrick Wleh and Safee Sali's goals in the 35th and 40th minute. But just two minutes later, Montenegrin restored parity by scoring his second of the night, and the last goal of the match.