Malaysian FA Cup: Sahil, Faris restore pride, belief

Malaysian FA Cup: Sahil, Faris restore pride, belief

For so long, they have had to endure harsh criticisms about the Singapore Under-23s' recent run of poor results.

No guts, no gumption, no verve, no victory.

But, by scoring the goals that helped the LionsXII beat Kelantan 3-1 and become the first foreign team to win the Malaysian FA Cup at the Bukit Jalil Stadium last night, Faris Ramli and Sahil Suhaimi have restored pride, belief and confidence that the Young Lions may be able to do something special again at next month's South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

Sahil said: "Regardless of what the haters say, I just love to prove them wrong.

"Words cannot describe the feelings of scoring the match-winning goals in my first cup final. I hope this is the first of more to come.

"But this big victory is not just about me. It's about the hard work of all the coaches, backroom staff and players in the LionsXII team. "We have faced so many obstacles, but we have pulled through and delivered."

Restored to the LionsXII side after they had joined the national U-23s for a training tour in Japan last week, the pair of 22-year-olds destroyed the Red Warriors with the crucial goals.

As early as the seventh minute, Faris latched on to a peach of a through-ball by Izzdin Shafiq, rounded Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat and slotted into the corner for the opener.

Despite Wan Zack Haikal's 62nd-minute equaliser, LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad still had a trump card in Sahil, whom he brought on in place of Khairul Nizam in the 58th minute.

Oh, and what a tremendous impact he made.

First, in the 82nd minute, Sahil picked Nik Shahrul Azim's pocket, charged into Kelantan's half before planting a low shot into the corner beyond Khairul Fahmi.

He wasn't done tormenting the opponents yet, and another direct run lured Amiridzwan Taj Tajuddin to bring him down in the penalty box in added time, before he neatly tucked in the resulting spot-kick.

"This is just the first step we have taken to restore pride and confidence in Singapore football," said Faris.

"We know we still have a long way to go, and we will work our hardest to build on this win and try to create another slice of history by winning the SEA Games football gold.

"We want to thank the thousands of fans who believed in us and come all the way to Bukit Jalil to support us.

"We hope that more will support the national teams in the future because we really feel their encouragement and we need it."

This article was first published on May 24, 2015.
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