S-League could act over horror tackle

SINGAPORE - A day after Tanjong Pagar United's Sazali Salleh suffered a horrific leg break, S-League chief executive Lim Chin told The New Paper that retrospective action could be taken against the player who put him on the hospital bed.

Jaguars midfielder Sazali was stretchered off in tears late during his side's RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final second leg match with Philippine side Loyola Meralco Sparks on Sunday.

The 33-year-old was on the receiving end of an ugly tackle by Loyola's South Korean forward Jang Jo Won, who was redcarded. The game ended 3-3, with Tanjong Pagar progressing 5-4 on aggregate.

Whisked off to the hospital immediately after the game, x-rays later showed that Sazali had broken his left fibula and could be out for the rest of the season.

Lim said Jang could face further disciplinary action.

He said: "We will take a look at the incident, and concurrently if or when Tanjong Pagar lodge an official complaint, we'll take it from there.

"But there are a few things we have to consider like the fact he is playing in a foreign league and whether there really was malicious intent in the tackle."

Visit to doctor

Sazali will visit the doctor again on Wednesday as the alignment of the joints in his ankle are "a bit off".

If surgery is the only way to repair the damage to his leg, it would almost certainly rule him out for the rest of the season.

It would be a sad and abrupt end to a fine season, where he had established himself as a key part of Tanjong Pagar's rise.

Jaguars coach Patrick Vallee said: "My thoughts now are not about how I can replace Sazali, but about how he is coping. "I'm disappointed and sad for him, because he was having a very good season. "Hopefully, he can recover soon since he is a strong player, but I don't think it is likely... We will see on Wednesday."

Given painkillers to ease the pain, Sazali remembers the moment his leg snapped.

"I received the ball and wanted to play it out wide," he said. "I pushed the ball to my right and saw him (Jang) coming on my left, then I felt the tackle.

"I saw my ankle bend inwards and I could hear a crack, so I knew it was a break. I can't describe the pain... It's the worst injury I've suffered."

His coach is still fuming about the physical style of football dished out by Loyola in the second leg.

Torn tendon

Apart from Sazali, Tanjong Pagar's French forward, Ismael Benahmed, also suffered an injury, tearing a tendon in his left hand.

Benahmed, though, is still able to train and play.

Said Vallee: "In the first leg, they (Loyola) played good football, so I don't understand why they had to play like that in the return match.

"I'm disappointed when I saw the video and the picture (of the tackle), and even more when I read later that their coach blamed the referee.How can you blame the ref?

"You need an excuse to explain the defeat but it's not my fault or the ref's fault that you end up with nine men. I would like to see what the Loyola coach would say if the roles were reversed and it was a Tanjong Pagar player who broke the leg of his player."

The outspoken French coach added that he would back any retrospective action taken against Jang, but did not say if his club would lodge an official complaint.

"Sure, I would like to see action against the player, because it is a tackle that could end a player's career," he said. "Maybe he should be banned for as long as the injured player is out of action."

Sazali, however, is ready to move on. When asked if he bore a grudge against Jang, he said: "At first, I did feel a bit of anger, but after a few hours, I realised that this is football.

"It could have happened to anyone. "I'm just trying to stay positive and hope I get good news on Wednesday."

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