Madhu seeks Felda redemption
The last head-to-head encounter between the two sides happened in last season’s Malaysia Cup group stage, where the LionsXII suffered a 3-1 defeat away at the Selayang Stadium last September to conclude an ill-fated Cup campaign.
For Madhu, that game was the more significant as he suffered a grade two tear on his right hamstring 26 minutes in and had to be replaced.
That injury led to him missing out on representing the national under-23s in their Incheon Asian Games campaign and the senior team in the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.
The memories of that unfortunate injury were still fresh in his mind when FFT spoke to him on Thursday evening.
“Back at that time, I was juggling between playing for the army and for the LionsXII,” he said.
“I was playing something like three games in three days and I didn’t rest well. In the end the muscle cannot ‘tahan’ and it just snapped, which meant I was out for six weeks.”
In a desperate bid to make Bernd Stange’s Suzuki Cup squad, Madhu rushed his recovery process which in turn deteriorated the actual extent of the injury – a decision which he admitted was an unwise one.
“I was trying to rush back but in the first training back with the national team, I pulled it again,” he said.
“That’s when I know I could not recover in time and my hopes of making the squad were over.
“After that, I did a lot of rehab and keep going to the gym to build up my fitness.
“I have to thank our physio Fizah (Nurhafizah Sujad) and the rest of the medical team who was very helpful throughout this painful process and now I’m grateful that I’ve fully recovered.”
A revitalized Madhu is now a key figure in the LionsXII backline, having played in all four games this season thus far and impressing with his no-nonsense tackling and ability to read the game.
Despite his progress, the versatile defender still hopes to go one step higher.
“I’m happy that everything is okay now and I started the season without any injuries,” he said.
“My partnership with Afiq (Yunos) is getting better in terms of communication and covering for each other as compared to the first game but we can do better.
“We’ve to stay focused; we’ve been conceding goals and we need to keep our first clean sheet in the league soon to boost our morale.
“Personally for me, I’ve got to step up even more because Safuwan (Baharudin) is not here and Faritz (Hameed) is still out injured.”
The task to take down Felda will come any easier considering that they are currently table-toppers with quality foreigners like Ndumba Makeche, Edward Junior Wilson and Zah Rahan Krangar.
However Madhu, who turned 24 on Friday, believes a strong team ethic will help them to pull off a positive result in Selayang.
“Felda has good foreigners and is a very strong team, but so far we’re doing well too,” he said.
“The desire and hard work is getting stronger and if we keep up the same effort, I don’t see why we can’t beat any team.”