Shahril Ishak and Hafiz Sujad out of Singapore's Asian Cup qualifier
Singapore have suffered a double blow ahead of their third-round Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain with the withdrawal of captain Shahril Ishak and winger Hafiz Abu Sujad.
The Lions' squad flew out to the Middle East on Monday without the pair. The Singaporeans will face Afghanistan in a friendly on Thursday before their meeting with the Bahrainis in Riffa on March 28.
Shahril has a foot injury, suffered in Warriors FC's 1-1 draw against Geylang International on March 10. Hafiz has a knee problem that he picked up while playing for Thai League 2 club Big Bang Chula United.
Coach V. Sundramoorthy has promoted uncapped Warriors FC defender Ho Wai Loon from the standby list to the main squad as cover for the two away games.
"We will miss Shahril and Hafiz because they are two of the more experienced players around who know what it is like to play in difficult conditions abroad," Sundramoorthy told The New Paper.
"We hope they will recover soon to contribute to the national team."
Shahril, who has 132 caps and 14 international goals, had been showing strong form in the S.League after moving from Johor Darul Ta'zim II at the end of last season.
"My right foot was stepped on in my last match. It was bruised but I was still feeling okay when I trained with the national team," said the 33-year-old attacking midfielder.
"But the condition worsened after that. I couldn't move my toes and I couldn't run, so I went for an X-ray which showed the minor fracture.
"It's always disappointing and frustrating to miss out on a national call-up. But, luckily, it is not something more serious and I'm recovering well."
Sundramoorthy, who recently signed a two-year contract extension, is hoping to put the disappointing 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign behind him, despite the injury setbacks.
He added: "The games against Afghanistan and Bahrain will not be easy. But if we play to our strengths, we will give them a good run for their money and can return home with positive results."
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