The AFC Champions League (ACL) hopes of Tampines Rovers have received a huge dent, with both foreign wingers Jordan Webb and Ryutaro Megumi ruled out of next Tuesday's qualifier away to Indonesia's Bali United.
The duo missed the Stags' final warm-up against Geylang International on Thursday evening through injuries and will not recover in time for the Jan. 16 crunch game, according to coach Jurgen Raab.
The duo had combined well to help the Stags to pull off a 2-1 friendly win against Malaysia Premier League (MPL) side Johor Darul Ta'zim II last Saturday.
"There are some problems [with them] after last week's friendly game. Jordan will be out for two weeks and Megu has an ankle injury which should take four to five weeks to recover," Raab told ESPN FC. "We have no choice but to replace these two high-level players."
In the duo's absence, Tampines struggled to break down Geylang in the first half but scored two after the break to dispatch their Eastern rivals at Our Tampines Hub.
Webb's replacement Zulfadhmi Suzliman headed home 17-year-old substitute Ryhan Stewart's right-wing cross around the hour mark to break the deadlock.
Captain Mustafic Fahrudin then converted a late penalty to settle the issue after substitute Khairul Amri was fell in the box.
Raab can take heart from a strong defensive showing from the back three of Daniel Bennett, Mustafic and Afiq Yunos as they look to overcome the odds against Bali next Tuesday.
"I'm happy with what we have done today despite not being in the best conditions," the German said. "We worked very hard and allowed Geylang little chances.
"Without Jordan and Megu, we're going to be underdogs against Bali. But it's a situation which we have to live with and I cannot lament anything.
"It's a huge challenge for us and we'll try our best to do a good job over there."
If Tampines Rovers fail to qualify for the ACL, they are likely to meet Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta'zim in the group stages of the 2018 AFC Cup.