LionsXII on the brink of elimination after shock loss to JDT II
JOHOR DARUL TA'ZIM 2 (Syafiq Shahrudin 21, Fandi Ahmad 84)
LIONSXII 1 (Hafiz Abu Sujad 51)
PASIR GUDANG, Malaysia - Fandi Ahmad rose to the occasion at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor on Saturday night.
Unfortunately, for the travelling LionsXII fans, it wasn't the footballing legend who sat on the bench of the Singapore side.
It was a little-known 24-year-old from Johor Darul Ta'zim II.
The substitute delivered the knock-out blow six minutes from times to give JDT II a shock 2-1 victory in the Malaysia Cup Group A match, as the LionsXII now face almost certain elimination from the tournament after just three games.
The Singapore side have just one point from three games, after drawing 0-0 with Felda and losing 2-1 to Pahang in their earlier home matches.
LionsXII coach Fandi, under fire from the media and certain sections of fans for his side's disappointing season in the Malaysian Super League and Cup, declined to speak to The New Paper after the match.
He was also busy pacifying his young charges as they slumped on the sidelines after the defeat.
Though they shook hands with their opponents and coach, no words were exchanged.
Striker Sufian Anuar, devoid of service up front throughout the game, could not hold back the tears.
Even the ever-affable Hafiz Abu Sujad, the team's best player on the night, cut a dejected figure.
It was a similar scene from two years ago, when the LionsXII suffered an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat by ATM FA at the semi-final stage.
"Obviously, we're all very disappointed and a little shocked," Hafiz said.
"We were trying to win this game, and, to do that, we took risks.
"That's how we got caught, on the counter-attack. Johor, like Pahang (last week) took their chances well."
The LionsXII must have smelled blood after just two minutes when Safuwan Baharudin took advantage of some awful defending and headed the ball against the post.