Bai suspended, Shahdan breaks leg
On paper, it was a comfortable win.
But Singapore's 4-2 triumph over Myanmar last night, in their second AFF Suzuki Cup Group B match, came at a heavy price.
Defender Baihakki Khaizan's ninth-minute booking for a foul on Myanmar dangerman Kyaw Ko Ko will rule him out of Saturday's Causeway Derby against Malaysia.
The 30-year-old had received a yellow card in the 1-2 loss to Thailand.
And, in the 25th minute, key midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman broke his leg in an ugly collision with teammate Khairul Amri during a corner kick.
The loss of two starters does not bode well for Singapore coach Bernd Stange ahead of Saturday's clash with a semi-final spot assured for the winners. A draw could be enough if Thailand, already qualified, do not lose by four goals to Myanmar.
But he tried to put on a brave face when he met the press later.
When asked what his outlook was on replacing the two players, the German said: "Positive. We have Baihakki suspended... (Shahdan) will be out for this year, at least.
"And we have, after such a clash, maybe some minor injuries.
"We will see tomorrow morning. We have 22 players and we have to bring a strong team against Malaysia."
Stange bristled when asked if he had decided where to play Hariss Harun, who put in a Man-of-the-Match display in midfield last night.
Besides his two goals, the 24-year-old Johor Darul Ta'zim star gave the team the defensive steel they needed to keep things together when their opponents threatened to claw back in the second half.
Against Thailand, Stange switched Hariss to defence after Baihakki looked in danger of picking up a second yellow card.
When pressed, the coach said: "I'm being absolutely honest, I haven't thought about that. Because the situation can change tomorrow morning, maybe I can have one player more; that's a question I will answer before the match against Malaysia."
Myanmar coach Raddy Avramovic, who coached the Lions for nine years, said he felt Baihakki's suspension will have an effect on Singapore, but felt the team would cope.
Said the Serb: "Sure (it will have an effect), because Bai and Safuwan (Baharudin) are a good pair and that has helped the national team a lot. But they will find a solution."