MSL: Another blow for Fandi as Shahfiq injures spine

The new Malaysian Super League (MSL) season is only two weeks away, and Fandi Ahmad already has a selection crisis on his hands.

Friday morning, the 51-year-old LionsXII coach left with just 18 players for an eight-day training camp of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

With seven players from his 24-man squad unavailable, Fandi had to draft 17-year-old shot-stopper Zharfan Rohaizad, who featured in the Canon Lion City Cup last year, into the squad as cover.

Fresh blow

Already unable to select a number of players because of injuries or National Service (NS) commitments, he was dealt a fresh blow when it emerged that forward Shahfiq Ghani would miss the start of the season.

The 21-year-old, who scored five MSL goals last term, fractured part of his spine during the SEA Games semi-final against Thailand in Myanmar on Dec 19.

Remarkably, he didn't even know about it.

Shahfiq told The New Paper on Friday: "During a challenge with their defensive midfielder (Tanaboon Kesarat), I fell and he sat on me.

"I heard a crack, but didn't think much of it... I thought it was just another knock."

The left-footed player visited the Team Singapore doctor based in Naypyidaw the day after the match and underwent an X-ray, which revealed nothing.

Although he had expected the pain to be gone after "four or five days", Shahfiq still felt bothered when he returned to training at the Jalan Besar Stadium last week.

LionsXII physio Nurhafizah Abu Sujad helped him arrange a magnetic resonance imaging scan, and that's when the extent of his injury was revealed.

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