KUALA LUMPUR – An untimely injury has put paid to Selangor FC striker Muhammad Shahrel Fikri Md Fauzi’s hopes of donning national colours in the second round of the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June.
National team head coach Tan Cheng Hoe said that Muhammad Shahrel, the winner of the 2020 National Football Best Forward Award, suffered a fractured fibula (calf) during Selangor FC’s Super League match against Sri Pahang FC yesterday.
Cheng Hoe said Muhammad Shahrel, who is also known as ‘Eky’, would need between six and eight weeks of rest due to the injury.
The coach admitted that the player’s absence from Malaysia’s three tough matches against the UAE, Vietnam and Thailand in Group G of the qualifiers would be clearly felt, apart from affecting the team’s strategy and forcing him to draw up alternative plans.
“It’s a big loss for us. We (the panel of coaches) are still discussing about his replacement,” Cheng Hoe told Bernama today.
Cheng Hoe said there are others in the national squad who could fill the position, including the likes of naturalised player Guilherme de Paula (Perak FC), Muhammad Syafiq Ahmad (Johor Darul Ta’zim), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Sarawak United FC) and Luqman Hakim Shamsudin (KV Kortrijk).
In the Super League match against Sri Pahang FC at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan yesterday, Muhammad Shahrel was a second-half substitute but only featured for 10 minutes before being stretchered out with the injury following a tackle by Mohamad Muslim Ahmad.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Shahrel underwent treatment today, with his right leg in plaster cast to speed up the recovery process.
“Thank you everyone for your prayers. I’ll come back stronger,” Muhammad Shahrel said on Instagram.
He was among 28 players called up by Cheng Hoe to join the national centralised training camp in March.