Another injury setback for Shahdan
Tampines' midfield star doubtful for Suzuki Cup after recurrence of hairline fracture
WARRIORS FC v TAMPINES ROVERS
(Tonight, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
After two months on the sidelines due to a hairline fracture in his right leg, Tampines Rovers star Shahdan Sulaiman made a winning comeback in The New Paper League Cup last Wednesday.
In the 28th minute of their Group A clash with Hougang United, the midfielder opened the scoring for the Stags with a cool finish under the goalkeeper.
Five minutes later, Shahdan's whipped free-kick unsettled the Hougang defence and ended up in goal, via one of their defenders.
But his dream return soon turned into a nightmare.
Just moments before the referee blew for half-time, Shahdan was floored by an innocuous kick on his right leg from an opponent.
"At first, I didn't feel that much pain," the 28-year-old told TNP yesterday.
"Then I tried to stand up and realised I struggled to do it. So I hobbled off the pitch."
At half-time, the Tampines physio examined the injury, and advised coach Akbar Nawas to withdraw Shahdan. Tampines went on to beat Hougang 6-4.
But the player's worst fears were confirmed the next day, after X-rays showed he had fractured the same area of his fibula.
"I thought it wasn't as bad as the first time, because this time, at least I could walk," said Shahdan. "The doctor suggested that I take out the metal plate in my right leg, so I'm going for a surgery on Monday to do that."
The metal plate in Shahdan's leg was inserted after he fractured the same bone and also dislocated his right ankle, while playing for Singapore against Myanmar in the AFF Suzuki Cup in November 2014.
Then, he was out of action for six months. This time round, he is expected to be out for up to four months.
Said Shahdan: "It's very, very frustrating and disappointing.
"It's a big blow to my chances of making the national squad for the Suzuki Cup (in November).
"Having said that, I just want to see how my recovery goes and, hopefully, I'll still have a chance of making the team."
Tampines coach Akbar, whose side take on Warriors FC tonight at the Jalan Besar Stadium in their second Group A match, was gutted at losing his key player.
"It's very upsetting to lose him again," said Akbar.
"We were looking at using the League Cup to help him gain his match fitness, not just for the rest of the S.League season but our AFC Cup adventure too.
"But obviously, the player's health always matters more, so I hope removing the metal plate will help him come back stronger."
Akbar is already missing seven national players who are set to leave tonight for a week-long training camp in Japan.
He said he will likely hand starts to three Prime League (Under-21 team) players tonight.
But he insists his hand is forced, and says he is wary of the threat posed by the Warriors, who were thumped 4-0 by Brunei DPMM on Wednesday.
The Warriors will welcome defenders Hafiz Osman and Shaiful Esah back from suspension, and striker Jonathan Behe could also return from injury, although No. 1 goalkeeper Yazid Yasin will miss out due to a groin strain.
"Coming off a 4-0 defeat, the Warriors will go all out to try and stay in the competition," said Akbar.
"We have to set ourselves up to play a team that we have to give due respect to.
"Just because Player A or B or C does not play, it does not mean that we can take our foot off the pedal, because that may lead to complacency."
TONIGHT’S OTHER GAME
- Hougang United v Brunei DPMM (7.30pm, Hougang Stadium)