Afiq's injury looks serious
The LionsXII have had a mixed start to the 2015 Malaysia Super League campaign, although centre back Afiq Yunos has turned in some encouraging displays.
With Safuwan Baharudin on loan at A-League outfit Melbourne City, Madhu Mohana and Afiq have done well enough as the new partnership in the heart of the defence.
The reward for the 24-year-old was another start on the international stage last night, when Singapore took on Thailand at the 80th Birthday Stadium in Korat, which ended in a 2-0 defeat.
However, the rugged defender lasted only slightly more than half an hour before having to be replaced when he appeared to suffer a serious knee injury, after racing across in a determined bid to prevent Prakit Deeprom from firing a shot from close range.
It was a sad sight after the final whistle as a clearly downcast Afiq departed the dressing room on crutches ahead of the rest of the team, helped out of the stadium by physiotherapist Nurhafizah Abu Sujad and winger Gabriel Quak.
Although the Singapore camp remained tight-lipped on the extent of the injury, early signs suggest he could be out for an extended period of time.
"We'll have to wait for the medical report before we know how long Afiq will be out for," said Lions coach Bernd Stange.
"But I saw the incident on the video replay and it looked very, very bad."
The injury forced Stange to reshuffle his backline as Hafiz Abu Sujad was thrown on to play at left back, while Shaiful Esah filled Afiq's void in the heart of the defence.
The German felt that the incident, along with the absence of defenders Baihakki Khaizan and Madhu and captain Shahril Ishak (all injured), ultimately contributed to the loss.
"Unfortunately, it was just one of a few injuries we had. The loss of Afiq meant we had to change a lot of the positions and then we also made a second change with Shaiful, which made it very difficult," he said.
"It could be a reason we lost our concentration at the end of the game.
"It's just bad luck because it's not like the game was a hard one. It was a friendly and it was played like one."