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Malaysia footballer set to return after acid attack, says club official

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – A top Malaysian footballer who suffered severe burns in an acid attack is recovering well and could be back in action as early as August, his club said on Wednesday.

Selangor FC and Malaysia winger Faisal Halim suffered burns on the neck, shoulder, hands and chest in the assault at a shopping mall outside the capital Kuala Lumpur on May 5.

Chairman of the technical committee at Selangor FC Shahril Baharim said that Faisal is recovering well.

“I was told that with this progress, there is a big possibility that he will be back (on the pitch) by three to six months. This is based on what the doctors told me, the faster the better, that’s our hope,” Shahril said at a media briefing Wednesday.

“His recovery is very, very good. I was told that the skin grafting can only cover 70 per cent of the wounded area, but it was a miracle that he managed to get 100 per cent.”

Selangor FC Board of Directors member Shahril Mokhtar speaks during a press conference. PHOTO: AFP

Faisal had a three-hour skin allograft surgery on Monday which went “better than expected,” according to team doctor Muhammad Hazwan Khair, who also spoke at the media briefing.

Shahril said that another, more minor surgery will be performed on the player on Thursday.

“The doctors will observe Faisal’s condition tomorrow to determine if he can be discharged in the next few days,” he said.

Nicknamed “Mickey”, the 26-year-old player scored an equaliser against South Korea that was voted best goal of the 2023 Asian Cup.

Malaysia’s domestic football season was slated to begin on May 10 with a curtain raiser between Faisal’s Selangor and Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).

Selangor pulled out, citing “a series of criminal incidents and recent threats”, but the league got under way.

Three days before the acid attack, another player, Akhyar Rashid, was injured in a robbery outside his home in the eastern state of Terengganu.

In a third incident, two days after the attack on Faisal, former Malaysia skipper Safiq Rahim escaped unharmed after he was threatened with a hammer and his car windscreen smashed by two assailants.

The mystery assaults have shocked and angered the football-crazy nation.

Police are continuing investigations with a motive yet to be determined.