SINGAPORE - Dead-ball situations proved a reliable source of goals for the LionsXII in their march to the Malaysian Super League (MSL) title last season but are now proving to be a big source of danger.
While the team have continued to profit from set-plays - bagging eight of the 18 goals in 14 games through this method - they have also been punished by opponents in similar circumstances.
Eight out of 15 goals conceded have come from dead-ball deliveries - a rate slightly above 50 per cent.
Last year, only six goals out of the 15 let in over the entire season were a consequence of set-plays.
This month, two goals from corner kicks consigned the LionsXII to 0-1 defeats against Sime Darby and Selangor while a free kick for T-Team helped them earn a 1-1 draw in March.
"We are losing concentration at the key moments, and end up ball-watching when opponents attack the set-piece deliveries and score," said coach Fandi Ahmad who is advocating a free-flowing style to replace the pragmatic tack favoured by predecessor V. Sundramoorthy last year.
"The players need to focus more and remember their duties in set-plays better."
Fandi said the only way to get things right now is to constantly practise defending against set-plays in training.
Defender Afiq Yunos, who conceded the free-kick against T-Team that led to the equaliser, said there was an urgent need to correct the shortcoming.