KUALA LUMPUR: An untimely injury has put paid to Selangor striker Shahrel Fikri’s (pic) 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 coach Tan Cheng Hoe said Shahrel, the winner of the 2020 best forward, suffered a fractured fibula (calf) during Selangor’s Super League match against Pahang on Wednesday.
Cheng Hoe said ‘Eky’ would need between six to eight weeks to recover.
The coach said with Shahrel’s absence he will have to draw up alternative plans for the three tough matches against the UAE, Vietnam and Thailand in Group G of the qualifiers.
“It’s a big loss for us. We (the panel of coaches) are still discussing about his replacement, ” said Cheng Hoe.
Cheng Hoe said there were others in the national squad who could fill the position, including the likes of naturalised player Guilherme de Paula (Perak), Mohd Syafiq Ahmad (Johor Darul Ta’zim), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Sarawak) and Luqman Hakim (KV Kortrijk).
In the match at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan, Shahrel was a second-half substitute but only featured for 10 minutes before being stretchered out following a tackle by Muslim Ahmad.
Meanwhile, Shahrel remained in high spirits yesterday.
“Thank you everyone for your prayers.
“I’ll come back stronger, ” said Shahrel on Instagram.
He was among 28 players called up by Cheng Hoe to join the national centralised training camp in March. — Bernama