The Football Association of Singapore recently confirmed that national team striker Ilhan Fandi will be out of action for six to nine months after undergoing a knee surgery as he was injured while representing Singapore against Vietnam at the 2022 AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup.

“The FAS can confirm that Ilhan Fandi has sustained a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will undergo reconstruction surgery,” said the FAS in a media statement.

The FAS will cover all costs related to the surgery, which will be performed by orthopaedic surgeon Dr Lim Jit Kheng – one of Singapore’s top surgeons with extensive experience regarding such surgeries for elite footballers and athletes.

Post-surgery, Ilhan is expected to be side-lined for six to nine months while he undergoes the appropriate rehabilitation programmes. 

“We wish Ilhan a successful surgery and a swift recovery as we look forward to having him back in national colours soon,” added FAS.

The former Albirex Niigata (Singapore) FC player signed for Belgium club KMSK Deinze in December and was expected to join his new club in January after the regional AFF Cup. Now that he is out of footballing action for more than half a year, the FAS said that they are currently in discussions with the Belgian second division club regarding further plans for Ilhan. 

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In the Facebook post by FAS confirming Ilhan’s injury, some fans have expressed their displeasure at the artificial turf at the Jalan Besar Stadium. 

“Thanks Jalan Besar Stadium. Now we gotta see our next golden boy dampen his opportunity with his new club in Europe, just when we hope he can make a good start there. I really hope you people and relevant authorities can realize that artificial pitches are NOT the way to go for especially, senior and professional level matches. Look at how many of our footballers got long term injuries for the past year. Not just Ilhan, but also Ikhsan and Jacob Mahler,” said Yiheng Ciaran Chia.

“All because of that stupid pitch. Yes it has been your extra advantage over the years, but now it’s just not relevant anymore. That’s why teams hate playing there, because players have to be extra careful and not give 100% on the pitch,” commented Naqib Ruslan.

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Even the Myanmar national football team coach Antoine Hey tears apart the artificial pitch at the Jalan Besar Stadium during the pre-match press conference before their battle against Singapore.

“For junior football, maybe it’s a good idea, but for very intensive senior international matches, I doubt it is a very useful solution,” said Myanmar head coach Hey as reported by Yahoo Singapore.

“If it’s such a good idea, why are there no top international competitions – the World Cup, the Asian Championship or the Champions League – playing on them? What is the reason for us to play on this?

“Youth development football, it’s okay to use artificial pitches to keep to the same standards. But for international football, with all the dynamics and all the speed… You just saw the two injuries (to your players), it’s not coming from nowhere.”

The two players Hey refers to are Ikhsan Fandi and Adam Swandi, who both suffered knee injuries in a friendly match against Maldives a week before the start of the AFF Cup.

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In 2016, FAS responded to media queries regarding the use of artificial or synthetic field at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

“The current pitch at Jalan Besar Stadium utilises natural recycled materials, composing of coconut husk and recycled cork material. The safety of our players and officials is of utmost importance to us and we conduct maintenance of the pitch on a regular basis. Among others, we would brush the pitch twice-a-week, top up the infills every quarter and allow the pitch sufficient rest‚ to ensure that it is safe for players and officials,” said an FAS spokesman.

“FIFA conducts regular inspection of our pitch, and we have always adhered to their requirements relating to pitches. We have written to FIFA on this matter and we will await their advice on the next course of action. We will continue to consult and work closely with FIFA and all other relevant authorities to maintain the quality of our pitch,” added the FAS statement. /TISG