BLOG: Shahdan's horror injury will spur Lions on
It is a wild thought, that Shahdan Sulaiman can inspire a victory off the football pitch, from a hospital bed, with his right leg in a cast no less. But the unfortunate Singapore midfielder's horrific injury - sustained in Wednesday's 4-2 win over Myanmar - could well be the very spark needed bring the Lions' AFF Suzuki Cup campaign to life.
Few fancied Singapore's chances of retaining its title before the Group B campaign kicked off last Sunday, but that is hardly different from the start of 2012 edition of the tourney.
Two years ago, the Lions were battling for Radojko Avramovic, a coach they knew would leave the Lions den at the end of the competition. It rallied the team.
Unity was at a phenomenal high, morphing into a group siege mentality when Hariss Harun suffered a fracture that saw his involvement come to an early end. It was evident that on Wednesday, Shahdan's broken and dislocated right ankle, hit the team hard. There was palpable shock and horror in the eyes of those closest to Shahdan when the incident occurred.
Khairul Amri was stunned, Hassan Sunny had his head in his hands, and both Safuwan Baharudin and Baihakki Khaizan were wildly waving for medical staff to run onto the pitch. But Shahdan has now given the team a cause to fight for - a battle for their fallen comrade.
Hariss already dedicated his two goals in the game - and the win - to his central midfield partner, and from Instagram to Facebook and Twitter, and even at his bedside in hospital, encouragement has poured in from the rest of the Lions, and indeed from the football fraternity.
If there was a silver lining to the accident, it is this: even if Shahdan can't spray his trademark passes on the field, he is already drawing energy from his teammates, through prayers and positive vibes they are sending to his hospital bed.
After a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Thailand, and a nerve-racking win over Myanmar, a little positivity and drive, however strangely inspired, could go a long way for the Lions, especially as they prepare to face unpredictable old rivals Malaysia.