Fandi stresses attacking play in MSL

Fandi stresses attacking play in MSL
LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad (centre, in white) watches on as defender Safuwan Baharudin (L) and striker Khairul Amri tussle for the ball in training.

SINGAPORE- On paper, he has inherited a LionsXII squad weakened by the departures of several key players.

But that will not stop Fandi Ahmad from sending a side out with all guns blazing when the new Malaysian football season starts on Jan 17. After all, as the ex-national captain said: "I like my teams to play attacking football."

He was speaking after yesterday's rain-hit training session that saw the return of the bulk of Singapore's SEA Games bronze-winning squad.

While it was his first up-close look at most of the players at his disposal, Fandi already has plans to adopt an attack-minded 4-3-3 formation for the coming season.

It is a stark contrast to predecessor V. Sundramoorthy's preferred five-man midfield - a more pragmatic approach which helped land the Malaysian Super League (MSL) crown earlier this year.

"We'll try to play 4-3-3 because we have two good wingers," Fandi said in reference to Gabriel Quak and Faris Ramli.

The latter, 21, enjoyed an unexpectedly successful year in 2012, winning over many fans with his trickery and willingness to run at defenders. Quak, meanwhile, at times flattered to deceive but is evidently a big part of Fandi's plans.

"I hope he's very hungry to play," the LionsXII coach said. "He's fast and skilful; he just needs to keep his focus."

But all the wing wizardry in the world will be for nothing without someone to hit the back of the net. And Fandi admitted that scoring is "the problem".

Both strikers Khairul Amri and Sufian Anuar will likely get chances to impress in Yogyakarta from Jan 3 to 11, when the LionsXII will play three friendlies against Indonesian Premier League sides.

And then there is Shahfiq Ghani, a vital cog of the MSL-winning side who was far from his best at the SEA Games.

"I've had a talk with him," Fandi revealed. "Hopefully, he can be more energetic, more creative."

Shahfiq himself is keen to put his Myanmar nightmare behind him, saying: "It wasn't the best time for me, I just wasn't on form. But it's a new year and I'm ready to fight for my place."

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