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Ilhan Fandi ruled out for six to nine months with ACL injury

Less than a month after sealing a dream move to Belgium, Singapore Premier League (SPL) Young Player of the Year Ilhan Fandi will be out of action for six to nine months after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

In a media statement on Tuesday, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) confirmed that the 20-year-old national striker “has sustained a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will undergo reconstruction surgery”.

Ilhan will go under the knife on Wednesday and the FAS will cover all costs related to the surgery, which will be performed by orthopaedic surgeon Dr Lim Jit Kheng. Post-surgery, Ilhan is expected to be sidelined for six to nine months while he undergoes the appropriate rehabilitation programmes, added the association.

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

Ilhan suffered the injury during the Asean Football Federation Championship game against Vietnam on Dec 30 at the Jalan Besar Stadium. The group-stage match ended 0-0.

Attempting to latch onto Hariss Harun’s 38th-minute long ball, Ilhan went down in the Vietnam box clutching his left thigh. He punched the artificial turf before trying to play on, but went down again just before half-time and was substituted at the break.

He is the third footballer to have suffered a knee injury on Jalan Besar’s artificial turf in the last month. Forward Ikhsan Fandi and midfielder Adam Swandi missed the AFF Championships after suffering knee injuries during a 3-1 friendly win over Maldives on Dec 17.

With Ilhan out of action for at least the first half of 2023, the FAS said that it is currently in discussions with Belgium club KMSK Deinze regarding further plans for the footballer.

Ilhan, who scored 20 goals in 27 SPL and Singapore cup matches for Albirex Niigata in 2022, was initially expected to join Deinze in January. His contract, which was announced on Dec 12, runs till June 2024.

On its club website, Deinze also posted a statement on Ilhan’s injury, saying: “We wish Ilhan a successful operation and a speedy recovery.”

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