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No Baihakki for Singapore – What's next for the Lions

12:59 PM IST 13/02/17
Baihakki Khaizan Singapore
With Baihakki out of the national team, will the Lions be able to make an impact in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers?

Singapore tational team caretaker coach V. Sundramoorthy has announced that veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan will not be considered for selection during Singapore’s upcoming 2019 Asian Cup qualifying campaign.

The influential 33-year-old's exclusion from the squad could be a sign that Sundram has decided to build his defence around the partnership of Madhu Mohana and Daniel Bennett, a combination that worked well in the Philippines.

With the squad due to be announced imminently, this could pave the way for younger players like Abdil Qaiyyim, who had an impressive 2016 S.League campaign, or Afiq Yunos to make the step up and challenge for a place in the national team.

Baihakki’s absence is likely to be a big miss for the squad. He brings a winning mentality and has been a calming presence at the heart of the Singapore defence for a long time.

In an interview with the New Paper, Sundram was quoted as saying: “Baihakki is a long-time servant of the national team. We appreciate his commitment to the national team, and respect what he has achieved with the Lions.”

"However, he is not part of my plans for the Asian Cup qualifiers, and I thought it was important to meet him and tell him this myself.”

"I thank Baihakki for what he's given to the team."

The 129-capped centre back made only one appearance and played 13 minutes during Singapore’s ill-fated 2016 Suzuki Cup campaign.

It remains to be seen if Sundram has made the right choice in leaving out one of Singapore’s finest centrebacks.