Injured Fazrul to miss Suzuki Cup
National striker to miss Suzuki Cup after ACL tear in left knee
Fazrul Nawaz must be wondering: Why always me?
In 2008, the national striker suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in his right knee that ruled him out of that year's AFF Suzuki Cup.
Then on Wednesday night, the 31-year-old suffered another ACL tear - this time in his left knee - that will once again keep him out of South-east Asia's biggest football tournament in November.
A crestfallen Fazrul told The New Paper yesterday: "The doctor told me the Suzuki Cup is out of the question.
"For now, I have to wait until next month to see how my MCL (medial collateral ligament) heals, and then probably I'll go for surgery."
Fazrul added that he is likely to be sidelined for six to seven months.
He picked up his latest injury in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League game against Hougang United on Wednesday, which Tampines lost 2-1.
Fazrul was attempting to tackle Hougang's Fumiya Kogure in the 78th minute, but when the Japanese playmaker darted to the left, Fazrul's studs got caught in the turf and he went down in a heap, clutching his knee.
He was later taken to the hospital for an MRI scan and the result was known yesterday.
"I heard a "pop" sound when I twisted my knee, so I prepared myself for the worst," said Fazrul.
Lions coach V Sundramoorthy was in the stands at the Jurong West Stadium, and watched on in horror as one of his national team regulars had to be stretchered off.
But he backs his striker to make a comeback.
"We will miss him at the Suzuki Cup," said Sundram. "Knowing Fazrul, he will fight hard to come back, and we want him back for the Asian Cup qualifiers (that begin in late March)."
The situation Fazrul finds himself in is all too familiar.
When he also tore his ACL in an S.League game playing for Geylang International in 2008, the injury not only ruled him out of that year's Suzuki Cup, but it also left him in limbo as his contract with Geylang expired at the end of that season.
He was handed a lifeline by Gombak United chairman John Yap, who signed him on for the 2009 S.League season despite his injury.
He returned to action after seven months on the sidelines.
His contract with Tampines runs out at the end of the year, but Fazrul insisted his focus at the moment is on getting back to full fitness.
"Of course there's disappointment in missing out on the Suzuki Cup, but I have to be positive," he said.
"Right now, I have to get back in shape. Age is just a number. I know I can come back."
Age is just a number. I know I can come back.
— Fazrul Nawaz, 31