Injured Isa weathers flak but hails fans' support role

Injured Isa weathers flak but hails fans' support role

Downcast and deflated, the LionsXII players were in no mood to greet their fans last Saturday as they left the Jalan Besar Stadium with their heads bowed.

Because of that, Isa Halim, who shouldered the blame for Kelantan's late winner in a 1-2 Malaysian Super League loss, has found himself issuing more apologies.

On Sunday, the skipper said sorry on behalf of his team-mates for not acknowledging their fans after the first home league defeat in almost 20 months.

"I would like to say sorry to the fans and their kids who waited for us after the game," the Singapore international midfielder wrote on his Facebook page.

"We are not superstars; in fact, we are nothing without the fans. I hope we can move on - more than ever, we need your support."

The 27-year-old spent a sleepless Saturday night, after his moment of hesitation allowed Francis Forkey Doe to snatch a stoppage-time winner for the visitors.

While a vast majority of the 80-odd responses to his apology were positive, one fan had harsh words for the LionsXII skipper.

"As captain, people expect a lot of you," Zainal Muhamad said. "But lately, your performances have been below par."

Instead of feeling angry about the flak, Isa, who took over the captaincy this season after Shahril Ishak's move to Johor Darul Takzim II, admitted: "This is probably my worst start to a season.

"I've been trying to do more in matches but it just hasn't worked out. It's been very frustrating."

He has not been helped, either, by a partial tear in his left Achilles tendon caused by a heel spur.

On a scale of one to 10, the midfield hardman described his pain as a nine. The stinging feeling has followed him everywhere since December, each time he puts weight on the troublesome foot.

Isa has found some relief after shockwave treatment, which helps break down calcium deposits in the tendons.

But the problem will ultimately require surgery - something both Isa and team officials are hoping to put off until after Singapore's title defence in December's ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

"For now, he'll just have to do strengthening and flexibility work, and play through the pain," LionsXII team physiotherapist Nurhafizah Abu Sujad said.

She said the procedure will need a three-month recovery period, which would rule Isa out of the start of the next MSL season.

But thoughts of the 2015 campaign could not be further from his mind. "It's been a difficult start but I'm not going to give up halfway through," he said.

"I'm going to keep working, to show that I am worthy of the captaincy."

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