Malaysian Super League (MSL) club and table-toppers LionsXII will be up against fellow title challengers Johor Darul Takzim on June 22, but coach V. Sundramoorthy will have to make do without defender Shakir Hamzah after he scored an own goal.
Shakir was reported to have traveled with the club for an away match without the prior approval of his superiors in the Singapore Police Force, and has subsequently been charged with being "absent without official leave" (AWOL). He is now currently serving a four-day detention for his actions.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) also took a stern view on this incident and has since suspended the player from all football activities. Shakir will also be brought before the FAS disciplinary committee.
“The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has always supported National Service, which is critical to national security," an FAS spokesperson in a press statement on Saturday.
“We have constantly impressed upon our players who are undergoing National Service to serve with dedication and we have also reminded them that it is a privilege to represent their country or club during their national service.”
In the press release, FAS also indicated that it was not the first time that Shakir has brought disrepute to the club and that they had previously stepped in to discipline the player.
“We were informed of Shakir Hamzah’s absence without leave from his NS duties on Thursday, June 13 when we called to remind him of the award ceremony," it continued.
“The FAS is deeply disappointed by Shakir’s gross misconduct as we had only recently counselled him regarding his attitude and performance as well as his frequent absence from training due to his medical leave, even though he had begun to show improvement in recent weeks.”
FAS reiterated that the onus is on players themselves to get clearance from their respective units before they are allowed to play for their clubs.
“For National Service and part-time players, they will have to apply for leave from their respective NS units and employers to represent their clubs," the statement added.
“In the case of Shakir, our team manager was informed by Shakir in May that he had the permission from his unit to travel to Kuantan for the match against Pahang.
“While FAS notes that no other player in the LionsXII is involved in a similar situation, we will review our current processes and procedures.”
Photo courtesy of FAS