Shahril, Hafiz out of Lions squad
Skipper Shahril Ishak and Hafiz Abu Sujad have pulled out of the Singapore squad which left for Qatar yesterday morning to prepare for their third-round Asian Cup qualifying opener.
Warriors FC's Shahril, who has 132 caps and 14 international goals, suffered a minor foot fracture after creating the opener in his last match - a 1-1 home draw against Geylang International on March 10.
"My right foot was stepped on in my last match. It was bruised but I was still feeling okay when I trained with the national team," said the 33-year-old playmaker, who has played a key role in the Warriors' two-game unbeaten start to the season.
"But the condition worsened after that. I couldn't move my toes and I couldn't run, so I went for an X-ray which showed the minor fracture.
"It's always disappointing and frustrating to miss out on a national call-up but luckily it is not something more serious and I'm recovering well. "Hopefully I will return to action soon and earn another call-up."
On the other hand, the 26-year-old Hafiz, who plays on the left wing, is carrying a knee injury. The 34-cap player has returned to his Thai League 2 club Big Bang Chula United.
As a result of the injuries, uncapped Warriors FC defender Ho Wai Loon has been promoted from the standby list to the main squad, while in-form forwards Khairul Amri, Khairul Nizam, Faris Ramli and Shawal Anuar should provide adequate attacking cover.
The Lions are in Doha where they will take on Afghanistan in an international friendly on Thursday, before taking on Bahrain in Riffa for their Group E opener on March 28.
Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy bemoaned the loss of his senior players but remained upbeat for the campaign.
The 51-year-old said: "We will miss Shahril and Hafiz because they are two of the more experienced players around who know what it is like to play in difficult conditions abroad.
"We hope they will recover soon to contribute to the national team.
"The games against Afghanistan and Bahrain will not be easy. But if we play to our strengths, we will give them a good run for their money and can return home with positive results."