PETALING JAYA, May 6 – As the national football head coach Tan Cheng Hoe is concerned with injuries that have hit the initial national training squad – throwing a spanner in his plans for the second phase of centralised training for Harimau Malaya, scheduled to begin on May 16.
However, Cheng Hoe is not pushing the panic button just yet when striker Shahrel Fikri picked up a nasty injury while playing for Selangor FC against Sri Pahang FC in a Super League match at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan on Wednesday.
It is a long-term injury that will keep the injury-prone player, who played for Perak last season, before moving to Selangor, and is ruled out of competitive football for the next six weeks at least.
Tan Cheng Hoe

The Pahang-Selangor match ended in a 2-2 draw but Shahrel saw only about 15 minutes of action in Kuantan after coming on as a substitute for Danial Asri at the start of the second half.

Shahrel was stretched out with a self-inflicted injury when he landed awkwardly while challenging for the ball with Pahang defender Muslim Ahmad in the 61st minute.
Shahrel will miss Malaysia’s remaining matches in Group G in the World Cup 2022/Asia Cup 2023 qualifiers, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in June.
Malaysia will face UAE (June 3), Vietnam (June 11), and Thailand June 15. Before that Harimau Malaya will play two friendly matches against Bahrain and Kuwait before traveling to UAE.
Apart from losing Shahrel for the qualifiers, goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che, who plays for Melaka United in the Super League, is also reported to be nursing a groin injury and has not played in the last three matches.
Popularly known as Apek, Khairul is the second goalkeeper on the list after Terengganu’s Rahadiazli Rahalim cried off with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and is out for the rest of the season.
Penang keeper Samuel Somerville, who is on the standby list, is expected to join JDT’s Farizal Marlias and Selangor’s Khairul Azhan Khalid for the Middle East trip.
Somerville has recovered from an injury although he has not played for the Panthers lately because his replacement Brian See has been doing well between the post for the team.
Cheng Hoe has his options and has not ruled out young Johor Darul Takzim striker Arif Aiman, is expected to give the 19-year-old Pahang-born Arif a big break following his impressive form for the Southern Tigers.

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