The LionsXII faithful have been up in arms and rallying in support of Shakir Hamzah ever since news broke of his suspension from all footballing activities by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on June 15.Shakir, who was then serving in the Singapore Police Force for his National Service (NS), had travelled with the team to an away match without obtaining prior permission from his superiors. Shakir was subsequently charged and sentenced to four days of detention for the offence.
The defender has since been released from his detention and he took to Twitter to apologise for his mistake.
“I hope everything moves smoothly. From [the]mbottom of my heart I’m sorry for everything,” Shakir posted.
“I need some space after reading everything. Life still has to go on. It has been a week, I [am] not training with the team. Ohh God please settle the problem as fast as possible.”
During Shakir’s absence, LionsXII fan group Exclusive Singapore Lions XII created a "#FreeShakirHamzah" poster on social media platforms.
The postings garnered positive comments from readers, with many calling for FAS to reconsider their decision and allow the defender to play in their upcoming crucial tie against Johor Darul Takzim on June 22.
“FAS, everybody makes mistake, why so harsh on him? Since he is improving on his behaviour and conduct, why punish him further?” commented Zaleha Aziz.
“He's a youngster, just give him another chance. What a waste if we lose him, he's a great talent. He can fill in Bai's [Baihakki Khaizan] position,” added Radin Ramley in the same posting.
Shakir also received backing from his team-mates, who gave their frank thoughts on the matter, albeit on condition of anonymity.
“He has served detention for his mistake and I hope FAS will allow him to play this Saturday against Johor," said one.
"As superiors, they should look after the player’s well being and give him another chance.”
Several LionsXII fans also took the matter to FAS president Zainudin Nordin on Twitter, which prompted the following reply.
“We will help him without a doubt but discipline and NS are vital. He is young and will bounce back with proper guidance," he tweeted.
Apart from Shakir, Hafiz Sujad and central defender Baihakki Khaizan are also suspended for multiples yellow card offences, which means Hariss Harun will once again have to deputise at centreback.