Tampines No. 1 will be out for two months after back surgery while the club searches for an injury replacement.
Rafi Ali has revealed that his first choice goalkeeper is due to go for surgery on Tuesday to remove a lump from his back and will be out of action for at least a couple of months.
Hyrulnizam Juma'at has been an ever present in goals for the defending champions this season, but the newly appointed head coach admitted that his team would be missing the custodian in the near future.
“Unfortunately for us Hyrulnizam has got to go for an operation," Rafi told FourFourTwo after Friday's 2-1 victory over Courts Young Lions at Jalan Besar Stadium.
"He will be going in on Tuesday to remove the lump he has in the back and will be out for at least 2 months.”
The coach also added that ‘Ah Lau’, capped four times by Singapore, had been playing through the pain barrier since the start of the season and paid tribute to him for enduring it.
“I’m shocked to see him here today," he said.
"I think the boys wanted to win this for him because he has been playing with pain for the past 5 months - it started in preseason and he has been playing with this pain.
“All I can do is salute him because to see this kind of players as coach who says ‘I want to play, the pain is okay’, the respect I have for this kind of player is a lot.
“In the dressing room (before the game) he told the players ‘please get a win for me’ and they did it for him.”
This comes as a bitter blow for the Stags, who are still six points adrift of league leaders Brunei DPMM FC and in third position.
Tampines have already conceded 20 goals in just 13 games, and have collected just two clean sheets this season so far.
While Rafi praised second choice Ridhuan Barudin for the shift he put in on the night, he admitted that he was already searching for a new goalkeeper to cover for 28-year-old Hyrulnizam.
“We are hoping for the (transfer) window period to open and we have a few goalkeepers in mind so we’ll hopefully get one of them to cover for Hyrulnizam and while waiting for him to get better.”
One of Tampines' prospective targets is believed to be Australian goalkeeper Justin Pasfield, who was released from his A-League contract with the Central Coast Mariners earlier this month.
Photo Credit: Christina Seah Rodrigues/Football Association of Singaporecomments