KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 2017 : It is every footballer’s dream to don the national team jersey – and that seems to be a near reality for second-tier Perak SEDC footballer Shahrel Fikri Fauzi after national head coach Nelo Vingada listed the striker as part of his 24-men training squad as revealed on Aug 4.
While the news of the call-up assured Shahrel he was among the best of the best as he made the cut, the occasion also gave him a renewed faith as he was diagnosed with a minor heart valve leak – after three years of going through frequent medical check-ups, thinking it was time to hang his football boots.
Vingada relayed he believes Shahrel is fit as he has been playing regularly in the Premier League, noting that health is paramount in football, and he would have gotten necessary clearance to play.
“I have watched him play and I like what I have seen in him. If he is playing regularly for his club, it means he is fit as a fiddle,” Vingada was reported saying.
The 23-year-old, who is the captain of his team has been displaying an impressive run this season not only in the Premier League but has helped his side advance in the Super League next year, and in the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals as well.
As a top scorer for his team with 16 goals to date, Shahrel acknowledged he had a heart condition at a young age but his determination to become a professional footballer has kept him pushing forward regardless the setbacks.
He was once dropped out of the Harimau Muda B squad under coach Razip Ismail after he failed a health test. And now like a twist of fate, despite the endearing news, his health complication is once again being debated by certain quarters.
Unfortunate Turn Of Events
Team manager Rizal Ali Naizali reveals that there is a dispute in the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) against Shahrel’s condition – that has led to an uncertain outcome for the young and hopeful chap.
“I believe Shahrel’s medical condition should not be a deterrent for him to be part of the national squad. He is fast, his attitude toward the game is excellent. What he does on the pitch speaks for itself.
“But there are some quarters who want to promote other quarters, perhaps there is sponsorship involved,” he told Malaysian Digest.
Rizal recalls when FAM turned their back against Shahrel due to his heart condition, he highlights, “FAM should have taken him for further check-up. If we were to listen to FAM, this guy would not be here,” adding that his call-up by Vingada, proves that there is something special about him.
Perak SEDC team doctor Vinodharan who started his tenure in January 2017 and has been monitoring Shahrel ever since, shared, “I have seen his medical reports from the private hospital he has had regular check-ups with and he is normal, just any other person.”
Dr Vinod further shares after being diagnosed three years ago, Shahrel has been going through yearly tests and follow-ups for his heart condition and is constantly monitored for his well-being, so he does not see a problem why anything is holding him back from playing in the Harimau Malaya squad.
“He will have yearly check-ups and he will go through an extra stress test to get clearance to play. Last year he went to a stress test which concluded normal.
“I don’t see anything that is stopping him from playing as he is coping well with the fitness programmes.
“I don’t see why he can’t compete unless he has heart failure symptoms such as he can’t run very fast, swelling of the legs, among others. Clinically he has no symptoms of failure.
“We feel he should not be restricted from any competition,” the doctor told Malaysian Digest.
What is more enlightening, the doctor points out, is that Shahrel has been able to complete his training and compete in full game time, 90 minutes, for the past eight months, and without any heart failure.
“I don’t see why he can’t be playing in any international or national matches, there is no contradictions,” Dr Vinod asserted.
Fittest Man In The Squad
On top of his endurance level, Dr Vinod adds that Shahrel is the fittest person in the entire squad.
“He goes through the normal training routines like everyone else, he has the same diet, no extra restrictions, and he is not on any medication.
“His performance speaks for itself, as you know he is the top scorer in the team,” said the doctor.
And giving a nod to Dr Vinod’s views on Shahrel’s fitness, assistant manager for the team, Mohd Arfrenddy, who is most in touch with the players’ fitness level day in, day out, told Malaysian Digest, “Shahrel is the fittest player, no doubt.”
“I feel very frustrated that this is the first time he has been called up to play in the national squad, and yet this issue had to crop up.
“He is a very hardworking and disciplined player who is always focused on the game. He hardly suffers from any sicknesses and takes care of himself very well,” Arfrenddy stated, stressing that Shahrel has even received insurance coverage, proving that he is well and healthy to compete.
“Perhaps, there are certain quarters who are unhappy he has been selected to be part of the national squad, but if this issue prolongs, the best solution is for Perak SEDC to hold a press conference to clear the air,” he concluded.
The Harimau Malaya training camp under Vingada’s helm will begin this August 14 in Melaka, in preparation for three international “A” friendly matches against Syria (Aug 22), Macau (Aug 25) and Myanmar (Aug 29), as well as the second match of Group B, 2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers as they take on Hong Kong this Sept 5, in Melaka. – MALAYSIAN DIGEST