Bahrain have received a blow ahead of the second leg of their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying play-off against New Zealand next month with news that influential striker Alaa Hubail has torn the cruciate ligaments in his right knee.
The 27-year-old picked up the injury while playing for Al Ahli against Al Manama in the domestic Bahraini league on Tuesday. Hubail needs surgery and will be out for more than six months, Bahrain national team doctor Khalil Rabia told Press Association Sport.
Bahrain coach Milan Macala admitted his disappointment at the news but revealed he was in no rush to call up a replacement ahead of the return match with New Zealand in Wellington on 14 November. "It is disappointing that we will miss Alaa and I hope that he recovers soon," Macala said.
"A lot of players previously suffered such an injury here in Bahrain and it is really disappointing. It's really early to discuss whether I will call a replacement for Alaa, but we will look into this in the coming days."