If there is one glaring flaw that has plagued Fandi Ahmad's coaching career, it is that his sides play only one way - attack the opponents and go for broke.
Because he was a highly successful striker in his playing days, Fandi's coaching philosophy comes as no surprise.
But, while it served him well in the S-League as he won two titles with the Singapore Armed Forces FC in 2000 and 2002, that gung-ho approach has not quite yielded the same success across the causeway in the Malaysian Super League (MSL).
Last season, the LionsXII were often caught out tactically as they limped to an eighth-place finish in the 12-team MSL table.
So, in an uncharacteristic move, Fandi has since taken stock of his side's shortcomings and swopped their swashbuckling attacking displays for a more pragmatic, counter-attacking system this season.
He said: "This season, we have switched our style and because of that our performances have improved. We learnt from last season that we cannot go (on an) all-out attack in this league.
"This year, the team has been more balanced and the players have matured."
Fandi's use of Izzdin Shafiq, Firdaus Kasman and Isa Halim in midfield has given the side stability, while the likes of Faris Ramli and Gabriel Quak have added an extra dimension to their game down the flanks.
Quak felt the changes have allowed the LionsXII to be a better all-round side.
"Last season, Fandi, being an attacking-minded player, wanted us to play a certain way," said the 24-year-old. "Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out for us.
"This season, the changes have benefited us. Even when we lost, we defended well and there is more balance going forward as well as when we are defending."
Tonight, the LionsXII's soak-and-counter approach will be put to the test as they travel to the Shah Alam Stadium in search of an elusive away win against current table-toppers Selangor.
Fandi's side will be boosted by the return of top-scorer Khairul Amri.
The forward, who has four goals to his name this season, will start the tie after recovering from a groin injury that kept him out of the LionsXII's last match, a 0-0 draw with Johor Darul Takzim. Fandi is confident of a result against the traditional rivals, who are seven points ahead of the ninth-placed LionsXII in the league table.
He said: "It will be a great atmosphere and Selangor are a very good team but we want to go there and surprise everybody. We want the three points."
This article was first published on April 18, 2015.
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