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Ex-national youth player Karthik Raj, 25, dies after collapsing on pre-season tour

Tragedy struck the Singapore football fraternity on Wednesday, after former national youth player Karthik Raj Manimaren died suddenly. He was 25.

The winger, who was previously with Singapore Premier League (SPL) clubs Hougang United and Balestier Khalsa, joined the Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA) in 2022 and featured in the Singapore Football League (SFL) Division 1.

According to SKA, Karthik collapsed on Saturday while in Malaysia with the team for a pre-season tour and was taken by ambulance to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital. He was then medically repatriated to Singapore on Sunday via air ambulance and died at the Singapore General Hospital three days later.

The club, who won the SFL Division 1 title in 2022, said in a social media post: “Karthik joined SKA in 2022 as a promising footballer and was voted Young Player of the Year by his fellow teammates. He was a great asset to the team, winning praises for his determination and hard work from his teammates and coaching staff.

“No words can describe the loss of such a wonderful person! He was an extremely jovial and lovable young man who touched the hearts of so many people. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Karthik was once part of the National Football Academy (NFA) set-up in the Under-17 and Under-18 teams, playing alongside current national players Lionel Tan, Zharfan Rohaizad and Irfan Fandi. He was also a member of the national Under-16 squad for the Lion City Cup in 2013.

He made his SPL debut with Balestier in 2020 and had eight appearances for the Tigers.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said in a statement on Twitter that it was “deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Karthik”.

The national body also told The Straits Times that it has reached out to Karthik’s family and will be providing them with the necessary support.

Former Hougang captain Fabian Kwok said: “Karthik was a good boy and worked hard in training. He got along well with his teammates and always had a smile on his face. I’m sure he will be missed by many in the football fraternity.”

Zharfan, who was teammates with Karthik in the NFA, said in an Instagram story: “Rest easy my friend. I’ll always cherish the beautiful memories I had with you Karthik.”

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