Baihakki post reveals tense mood amid Lions

Hafiz Sujad and Baihakki Khaizan at training. Singapore trains at the University of Atheno on Nov 20, 2016.
Hafiz Sujad and Baihakki Khaizan at training. Singapore trains at the University of Atheno on Nov 20, 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

MANILA • Even as the Singapore national football team attempt to revive their chances of advancing to the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup semi-finals, defender Baihakki Khaizan's Facebook postings yesterday hinted that perhaps all is not well in the Lions' camp in Manila.

The veteran centre-back initially lashed out on the social media platform against an unnamed member of the team's backroom staff at noon, but the post was taken down by 7pm.

The Singapore team, after a 0-0 draw against co-hosts Philippines on Saturday and a 0-1 defeat by Thailand on Tuesday, face Indonesia tomorrow, needing a win in order to have a chance of reaching the semi-finals of the tournament.

But Baihakki - who has 129 caps but has not started a single game at this AFF Cup tournament - revealed in his initial post, which was written in Malay, that the actions of an assistant coach in the team caused him to lose his place in the first XI.

The 32-year-old added that the assistant coach and caretaker coach V. Sundramoorthy had been giving him the silent treatment.

The Straits Times understands that the post is directed at Sundram's assistant in this AFF Cup, Firdaus Kassim, 29, who was appointed last month.

  • 129 Number of Baihakki Khaizan's caps.

    0 Starts the Lions defender has made at this tournament so far.

Baihakki also said that he was axed because of the assistant coach's analysis of his match statistics.

Sundram had said that the defender was not given a starting place because he had been recovering from an undisclosed illness and needed to regain match fitness.

But Baihakki later removed his post in the evening, saying in a status update: "Had a few meetings and manage to clear the air.. Let's move forward, stay positive and look at the bright side of things."

In addition to the tense mood amid the Lions, there was confusion behind the scenes over their schedule yesterday.

Late yesterday morning, the Football Association of Singapore's media officer was unable to share information about the team's training time and venue as the Lions were "still confirming the pitch".

At 2.20pm, the media were informed that there was to be no training although some players had posted on social media saying that they were on their way to a futsal pitch for a kickabout.

The officer later clarified that the futsal session was not "official" training.

Wang Meng Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2016, with the headline 'Baihakki post reveals tense mood amid Lions'. Subscribe