There was a moment during Tuesday's closeddoor friendly between the LionsXII and the Courts Young Lions that had Fandi Ahmad's heart in his mouth.
It wasn't during the dying stages of the match when the Young Lions scored their third goal to seal a shock 3-1 victory.
It was midway through the second half, when star defender Safuwan Baharudin dropped to the ground following a collision and signalled to the bench to be taken off.
That 22-year-old then had to be helped off the pitch at ITE Central.
"When I saw Safuwan down, I started to pray," said Fand. Thankfully, for Fandi and Safuwan, the left knee Safuwan injured in the collision was not as serious as feared.
The national defender, last season's Most Valuable Player for the LionsXII, should be back in time for the Malaysian Super League season opener against Pahang on Jan 17.
"I can't recall exactly how the injury happened. After the challenge, as I was walking, I felt my left knee jam," Safuwan explained.
"At the time, I feared the worst. But I feel much better now. I'm able to walk, but there's still some pain at the joint." Team physiotherapist Nurhafizah Abu Sujad told TNP that Safuwan began his rehabilitation.
He will also join the LionsXII in Yogyakarta, Indonesia next week, for the team's training tour.
The Singapore side are slated to play three friendly matches against Indonesian Premier League clubs during their tour from tomorrow to Jan 11.
"Hopefully, Safuwan can play the third friendly (on Jan 10)," said Nurhafizah.
"He should be ready for Pahang, but that also depends on his response to the rehab."
Safuwan is not the only player on the treatment table. Shahfiq Ghani (back injury), Khairul Nizam (knee), and Shakir Hamzah (hamstring) were all sidelined during Wednesday's training session.
Second-choice custodian Khairulhin Khalid just had ankle surgery and won't be able to train for three weeks. The injuries mean Fandi won't get a chance to field his best 11 in Indonesia.
The 51-year-old has already thrown down the gauntlet, stating that he wants his young team to win their first three matches - against Pahang, Selangor (home) and Johor Darul Ta'zim (away).
"It's very tough period for us right now - and we haven't even started the season yet," Fandi said.
"Injuries are a big worry because we have a thin squad, but I'm looking to give everyone a chance. The boys, at least, are training very hard and showing eagerness in training.
"Against the Young Lions, we created a lot of chances, but couldn't score... It will take time for us to really get going."
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