National Under-23 skipper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat has gone AWOL on the very first day of training.
The Kelantan goalkeeper was the only absentee in the 25-player squad, who resumed training at Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya yesterday in preparation for the Olympic qualifier second-leg tie against Bahrain in Manama on Feb 5.
Coach Ong Kim Swee said he was surprised by Khairul’s absence.
“We announced the call-up for national training through the media and also sent official letters to all the state FAs,” said Kim Swee.
“There’s no reason for any player not to attend training. Khairul had better have a good reason.
“This is the first time a player has failed to turn up for training since I became the coach.
“I would like to hear what Khairul and the Kelantan FA have to say regarding his absence.”
The 25-player list for the final round of the Asian Zone Olympic qualifiers was released on Jan 18 and the final squad of 21 will be announced on Feb 1.
Malaysia need to beat Bahrain in a do-or-die match to re-ignite their faint playoff hopes in Group C, which also comprises leaders Japan and Syria.
Malaysia are bottom of the four-team group after three straight defeats.
Some of the players have been given clearance to attend training with their clubs for the Super League matches scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday.
Mohd Azrif Nasrulhaq of PKNS has been allowed to join his club today and will rejoin national training on Saturday.
Khairul, Mohd Zubir Mohd Azmi, Mohd Muslim Ahmad, K. Gurusamy, Ahmad Shakir Ali and Ahmad Fakri Saarani will return to their respective teams at noon tomorrow before rejoining the national training on Sunday.