LionsXII defender Afiq Yunos is usually a friendly guy with a ready smile.
Not this week.
The 23-year-old is still seething at Martin Kafando's horrendously high challenge in Tuesday's 1-0 win over Perak in Ipoh that left Afiq with swollen chin and jaw, bruises and a nagging headache.
"He could have taken my head off! It's obvious to me he had bad intentions," Afiq told The New Paper.
"I bit my tongue hard at the point of contact and I couldn't feel my tongue right after the challenge.
"If his knee was bent, I think the impact could have been greater and I would have suffered more serious injuries."
The match was not shown live here due to technical issues and, as such, not many would have known of how Perak defender Martin Kafando kneed Afiq in the face with a "Muay Thai" kick, while trying to clear a ball in the 89th minute.
In a video clip of the cruel challenge, both players were going for the loose ball in the Perak penalty box when the 25-year-old Burkina Faso international missed the ball and followed through with a flying kick that caught a standing 1.84-metre Afiq flush on the chin.
Inexplicably, referee Nazmi Nasaruddin, who had a clear view of the incident, did not book Kafando nor blow for a foul and penalty for LionsXII.
Afiq soldiered on despite the pain and the defending Malaysian Super League champions won with an injury-time goal by Safuwan Baharudin.
Match commentator Dez Corkhill told TNP: "The referee had a great view and, under modern interpretation, it was reckless and it should have been a penalty.
"It was incredibly enthusiastic. Kafando looked like he was going for the ball, but his leg came up so high it was like a Muay Thai kick. I don't think there was intent, but it was certainly reckless."
But Afiq was adamant it was a deliberate act of violence and called for more protection for players.
He said: "I'm very angry and disappointed with the referee and his assistant because it was so obvious and it happened right in front of their eyes.
"Yet when I asked them after the game, the referee claimed he didn't see anything.
"The player (Kafando) also didn't apologise to me nor did he join his team to shake our hands like we usually do after every game.
"This is already the second time I'm on the end of a sick challenge after Kelantan's Shakir Shaari was sent off for stamping on me earlier this month.
"These challenges can be potentially career-or-even-life threatening and I wouldn't want this to happen to any footballer.
"I hope the authorities will do something about this because it's not good for football."
His coach Fandi Ahmad also condemned such dangerous challenges, but is relieved that Afiq did not suffer more severe injuries.
"It was a very bad challenge that nobody likes to see happen. I'm just glad Afiq is okay," said the 51-year-old.
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