Lack of bite as poor run by LionsXII continues

Lack of bite as poor run by LionsXII continues
Malaysia Super League: LionsXll v Perak

A rapid counter-attack, Faris Ramli on the left, he teed up Gabriel Quak just outside the box, the winger hammers the ball goalwards... only for it to smack forward Khairul Amri in the head and deflect to safety.

That moment, in the 22nd minute of last night's 2-0 Malaysian Super League (MSL) defeat by Perak, encapsulated the kind of season Fandi Ahmad's men are having as their title crown fell on the floor with a mighty clang.

The euphoria of last year's championship had faded away. A half-empty stadium. From a campaign built on an unbeaten home run of 10 wins and a draw then, the statistic now reads four wins and four defeats at Jalan Besar.

"A disaster," Fandi said grimly.

"We have to go back to the drawing board. I need fighters and thinkers. I needs team players, not individuals."

Even the significance of the last home match of the season failed to lift the LionsXII.

The visitors took the lead in the 17th minute when Brazilian playmaker Marco Tulio's swerving free kick was parried by goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud and Nigerian striker Abdulafees Abdulsalam was left unmarked to volley home.

And in the 65th minute, towering Montenegrin striker Milan Purovic, who stands at 1.93m, was left all alone inside the box to pick his spot in the top right corner for the killer second goal.

"When we are desperate, we can do anything," said Perak coach Abu Bakar Fadzim on his team's stirring performance. "Maybe the LionsXII don't have confidence now.

They concede goals almost every match and the pressure is there."

Even when the hosts stirred to life after the break, they found Perak goalkeeper Razi Effendi in unbeatable form in a frenetic six-minute spell from the 72nd minute.

Safuwan Baharudin, playing in attacking midfield, saw his point blank volley and a goal-bound header parried away.

Forward Khairul Amri then struck the post with a volley and lobbed over the bar.

But to Fandi, the damage was already done in the first period "We simply didn't turn up and play. We have let the fans down," he sighed.

"Perak had a lot of fire, they want the three points. Some of our players have an attitude, they don't follow instructions. Some didn't go in for 50-50 balls. This is our home, we cannot let Perak walk in and take everything.

"We did quite well in the second-half but it is just pure bad timing that we met a good team and lost."

The team (eighth on 25 points) will wrap up their MSL season with a visit to T-Team (ninth, 24 points) in Terengganu on Wednesday, needing a point to ensure automatic qualification for the Malaysia Cup.

They will have to play off against a Premier League side if they lose and results elsewhere go against them.

meng@sph.com.sg

 

This article was first published on June 22, 2014.
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