Lions defender Bai's social media rant: I was given the silent treatment
Relegated to the bench, defender hits out on Facebook before post is removed
Just two days before Singapore's do-or-die AFF Suzuki Cup match against Indonesia, a Facebook post by Lions defender Baihakki Khaizan has clouded the team's preparations.
The 32-year-old centre back, who has 129 caps but has only played about 13 minutes of football in the tournament, hit out angrily at a member of the team's coaching staff on social media around noon yesterday.
The post, written in Malay, was accompanied by a screenshot of a text conversation with an unnamed person, who suggested Baihakki lost his place in the starting line-up because of the coach's analysis of his statistics.
It was taken down about six hours later, but not before a screenshot of it made the rounds on social media and via text messages.
Baihakki's post referred to a "young coach who gets the chance to be assistant" – which is likely to be 29-year-old Firdaus Kassim, who was appointed last month.
Sundram's other assistant coach in Manila is 54-year-old former Singapore great Fandi Ahmad.
The post continued: "He follows only what the coach tells him to do...
"But when at the coffeeshop with his buddies, he makes it sound like he is the head coach."
Baihakki added that "playing or not is not the main thing" and claimed the unnamed coach and Sundram had been giving him the "silent treatment for almost a week".
Last night, Football Association of Singapore (FAS) officials here said Sundram and Baihakki were unavailable for comment.
The outburst could not have come at a worse time.
The Lions have one point from two matches in Group A, after a draw with co-hosts Philippines and an agonising 1-0 loss to tournament favourites Thailand.
While there are a number of permutations that could see them advance to the semi-finals even with a draw tomorrow, the Lions will surely enter the game with only victory on their minds.
Even then it may not be enough.
In a conversation with The New Paper a day after the 0-0 draw with Philippines last Saturday, Baihakki said he accepted not being in the starting 11, and even praised the team's two starting centre backs, Madhu Mohana and Daniel Bennett, for their performance, indicating that they deserved to keep their place for the Thailand match on Tuesday.
Yesterday, Baihakki was spotted having a conversation with an FAS official at the team's segregated dining area on Level 6 at their Novotel Hotel base.
Soon after, his original post was removed.
He then posted another status, which read: "Had a few meetings and managed to clear the air...
"Let's move forward, stay positive and look at the bright side of things."
Baihakki featured for the Lions in the 0-0 draw with the Philippines on Saturday, when he came on as a substitute in the 77th minute.
Yesterday, commenting on his approach ahead of the Indonesia date, Sundram told TNP: "We have a squad of players.
"It's tough to choose the first 11, but I have to make my decision and the rest of the players have to give their support."