Hariss and Safuwan suspended for Afghanistan match
Singapore's big names suspended for vital clash
They are two of the biggest stars in the national team, one the inspirational captain and midfield automaton, the other slowly developing into the classic goalscorer from deep.
But both Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin will be missing for Singapore's vital clash against Afghanistan in their World Cup/Asian Cup Group E qualifier at the National Stadium on Oct 8.
The two midfielders will be suspended for a match the Lions know they have to win to keep alive their hopes of making the top two in the group.
Hariss, capped 56 times, has been key in Johor Darul Ta'zim's Malaysian Super League-winning campaign this season, while the LionsXII's Safuwan, the defender-turned-midfielder with 51 caps, has scored 13 goals this year.
But they will not be involved in Singapore's next match after they were yellow-carded in two previous World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers - a 4-0 win over Cambodia and a 1-0 defeat by Syria.
The double whammy represents a big blow for national coach Bernd Stange, who is attempting to plot a route into the 2019 Asian Cup final - Singapore have never qualified for the tournament - by finishing the campaign at least as one of the four best runners-up out of the eight groups.
However, the 67-year-old remained defiant despite the setback.
The German told The New Paper: "Injuries, suspensions and other unexpected circumstances are part and parcel of football and, as I have always stressed, our team need 20 to 25 good players during a long qualification campaign.
"Our current best player, Safuwan, was not available for the match against Japan in Saitama, but we did not mention his absence and we pulled off a 0-0 draw.
"If we are not able to replace two to three players, we don't deserve a successful qualification.
"We will continue to play our way of football and our players will have to step up.
"With passion, commitment and determination, we will try to overcome the absence of key players.
"We have to fight from the first till the very last minute against Afghanistan and we need to give our very best.
"If we do so and together with our fans, there will only be one winner - and that is us."
While Hariss and Safuwan will miss the Afghanistan assignment, they will be back to take on Cambodia at home on Oct 13.
Singapore are third in Group E with four points, five behind leaders Syria and three behind Japan.
Stange is expected to announce his squad for the upcoming matches later this week and start final preparations next Monday.
In recent internationals, Stange has opted for a midfield trio of Hariss, Safuwan and Izzdin Shafiq, a set-up boasting creativity, passing ability and physicality.
He is expected to turn to the likes of Shahdan Sulaiman, Firdaus Kasman, Zulfahmi Arifin and Hafiz Abu Sujad to fill the engine room in the absence of Hariss and Safuwan.
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