Almost a fortress

Almost a fortress
Faris Ramli and Hafiz Abu Sujad celebrating the latter's equaliser, when a cut-back from outside the box by the former found its way via a deflection to Hafiz.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - They triumphed in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) in 2013, fuelled by a proud home record as they remained undefeated throughout the season.

As the LionsXII came back from a goal behind to defeat Perak 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night, they preserved their unbeaten home record and underlined the point that Jalan Besar may once again be an impregnable fortress.

Fandi Ahmad's side have enjoyed a near perfect record at home this season, winning five and drawing two of their seven matches so far at Jalan Besar while netting 15 goals and conceding six.

He said: "It was a difficult game today. We didn't play that well today but it is important to keep winning and climb up the table."

Last season, in his first campaign in charge, the proud home record fell as early as the sixth game of the season when the team were defeated by Kelantan 1-0.

In 2013, when the LionsXII won the MSL under the tutelage of then head coach, V. Sundramoorthy, the side won 10 and drew one of their 11 matches at Jalan Besar.

While their home record has been impressive, the same cannot be said about their Achilles' heel, their away record.

In their eight matches on the road this season, the team have managed to conjure up only a single victory - a 2-1 win over bottom-of-the- table Sime Darby in May, while losing four matches and settling for draws on three occasions.

Last night, at one stage, it seemed that the LionsXII's home record would be broken when Perak took the lead in the 12th minute. South Korean attacker Nam Kung Woong rose highest to head in Tuah Iskandar's cross from the right flank after poor marking.

The LionsXII pressed hard for the equaliser and were rewarded on the stroke of half-time.

Faris Ramli's cut-back from outside the box found its way via a deflection to Hafiz Abu Sujad, who slotted the ball past goalkeeper Zamir Selamat.

Safuwan Baharudin netted the winning goal when he headed in unmarked from a Shahdan Sulaiman free-kick in the 53rd minute. It was the 23-year-old's third goal in five appearances this season since his return from a loan spell with A-League club Melbourne City.

Last night's come-from-behind victory was, however, marred by the behaviour of certain sections of the crowd who were heard directing monkey chants at Perak's Brazilian forward Chad Souza.

Having recorded back-to-back victories in the league, the LionsXII will now enjoy a three-week break in the MSL before they return to action against Felda United on Aug 2.

Currently 10 points behind league leaders Pahang, they will still be confident that they can play catch-up, especially if they can continue to roar at the lions' den.

drajac@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 9, 2015.
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