Just 11 days before Tampines Rovers take on the Philippines side Global FC in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League qualifiers, the S.League club were left reeling after defender Shakir Hamzah was arrested yesterday.
En route to Terengganu for pre-season friendlies, the Tampines squad assembled at 9am at Changi Airport's Terminal 2 yesterday for an 11am flight, but the Singapore international did not make it onto the plane as he was arrested.
A police spokesman told The New Paper: "Police confirm a 24-year-old man was arrested on Jan 13 pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued for his failure to attend court."
TNP understands the court case is related to family matters, of which the nature is not clear.
The club are not yet aware of the full implications and whether Shakir will be available for the Jan 24 match against Global, or indeed, for the 2017 S.League season that is pencilled in for kick-off in mid-February.
Speaking to TNP, Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra revealed that the club will support Shakir, 24, at least until all facts become clear.
"We don't know what the real issue is, and we must get all the facts of the situation before we take any steps.
"It is of course not ideal, and it's not the first time that a player has off-the-pitch issues. We want to be supportive, and we have," he said.
Indeed, Tampines have already shown support for a player who was facing personal issues in the weeks leading up to his arrest.
Shakir had been absent from training and uncontactable for a period, but Tampines rallied behind their man and he seemed to have put his troubles behind him recently.
Krishna did not reveal what Shakir's personal issues were.
"The club has been very supportive, not only the coaches but also the other players who have rallied behind him to support him through this phase," said the lawyer.
"At the same time, the individual needs to step up and commit to solving his problems."
Krishna asserted that the club's stance could change in the future.
"If (Shakir's indiscretions) go against the philosophy of the club, then we will be forced to take action."
Shakir could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The no-nonsense left-sided defender has been capped 31 times by Singapore and featured in all three of the Lions' games in last November's Suzuki Cup, when V Sundramoorthy's men were knocked out in the group stage.
BRUSH WITH LAW
The latest incident is not Shakir's first brush with the law.
In 2013, while in full-time national service with the Police Force and playing for the LionsXII - a now-defunct Singapore side that plied its trade in the Malaysian Super League - Shakir left his place of duty to travel to Kuantan to play in a 1-1 draw with Pahang.
He was charged with one count of absence without official leave and one count of disobedience of orders, and served four days in detention.
He was also charged by the Football Association of Singapore for bringing the game into disrepute, and fined $4,000 and ordered to do 30 hours of community service.
This article was first published on Jan 14, 2017.
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