Football: Singapore suffer big blow as Ikhsan Fandi, Adam Swandi … – The Straits Times

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SINGAPORE – With less than a week to go to their Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship opener, the Lions have been dealt a severe blow as two key players – striker Ikhsan Fandi and midfielder Adam Swandi – have been ruled out because of serious knee injuries.
A Football Association of Singapore spokesman told The Straits Times on Sunday that “while their follow-up procedures are still being determined, it is confirmed that both players will not be fully fit in time for the upcoming biennial competition”.
He added: “We wish them a swift recovery and look forward to having them back in national colours soon.”
It is understood that while both players did not suffer the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament rupture, they may still require surgery.
The duo were hurt in Saturday’s 3-1 friendly win over the Maldives at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
After playing a key role in his younger brother Ilhan Fandi’s first international goal in the fifth minute, Ikhsan, 23, went down in the 38th minute during a Lions foray into the Maldives penalty box.
In the 61st minute, with Singapore leading 2-1, Adam crumpled into a heap on the right flank after a challenge by Maldives defender Ahmed Numaan.
The 26-year-old Lion City Sailors player, who has 17 caps and one international goal, tried to walk but eventually also needed to be carried off. Both players were taken to the hospital to have the extent of their injuries assessed after the match.
On Instagram, Ikhsan quoted the Arabic word for endurance, perseverance and persistence, and wrote on Sunday: “Everything happens for a reason… sabr.”
Singapore open their AFF campaign against Myanmar at Jalan Besar on Saturday. While coach Takayuki Nishigaya will be encouraged by a positive second-half display in which “we played as a team until the end and the accidents didn’t affect our concentration”, he will need to rework his strategy for the four-time champions going into the tournament.
After all, with 17 goals in 33 international appearances, Ikhsan is the team’s main goal-getter – the other six forwards in the team have just 15 goals from 114 games – while Adam had emerged as Nishigaya’s first-choice central midfield pick in the past three games.
The 49-year-old Japanese will finalise his 23-man squad from a 30-player shortlist for the regional competition on Tuesday.
Nishigaya, who took charge in May, told ST: “It is very unfortunate that Ikhsan and Adam will not be able to join us for the tournament. Along with the rest of the team, they have worked very hard during our preparation period and I can sympathise with how they are feeling right now.
“Both of them have very strong mentalities and commitment, and I have no doubt that they will come back stronger. I will be assessing my options in terms of the final squad and I am fully confident we have players in the team who can fill in and carry out our plans accordingly.
“Injuries are part and parcel of football and I am confident that with the team spirit in the squad, we can overcome setbacks and continue to focus on doing well in the tournament.”
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MCI (P) 076/10/2022, MCI (P) 077/10/2022. Published by SPH Media Limited, Co. Regn. No. 202120748H. Copyright © 2023 SPH Media Limited. All rights reserved.


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