No bite, no clue

 No bite, no clue
Fandi Ahmad (above, right) finds it hard to explain the LionsXII's loss as his dejected players troop out.

Zero ideas, zero goals, zero points.

The LionsXII left the Shah Alam Stadium with their tails between their legs last night, after they were beaten 1-0 by a Selangor outfit who, despite playing their 12th match in 40 days, looked more energetic all over the pitch.

Sure, questions will be asked about how Australian defender George Pantelidis was left unmarked to nod home the winner in the 24th minute off a corner kick.

But perhaps of more pressing concern for LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad will be how toothless his side's attack was last night.

The LionsXII's frontline was so poor that Selangor goalkeeper Farizal Marlias probably could have had a siesta in goal and still end the match with his clean sheet intact.

They registered only two efforts on target - a hopeful long-range effort and a tame header - which both went straight at Farizal.

Their only other attempt of note was Safuwan Baharudin's eighth-minute free-kick which went into the side netting.

The LionsXII looked nothing like the side that thumped Malaysian Super League (MSL) leaders Pahang 4-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday.

By comparison, Selangor looked far slicker going forward.

After just six minutes, a deft touch by the league's leading scorer Paulo Rangel set his strike partner Thamil Arasu through on goal, but the latter hesitated and was denied by Afiq Yunos' fine tackle.

Even after Pantelidis diverted Rangel's header into goal from an Andik Vermansyah corner, Selangor looked hungry for more.

A slaloming run by speedster S Kunanlan in the 32nd minute stretched the LionsXII defence, but Rangel fired wide at the end of the move.

Strong Man

Rangel looked good for a goal throughout the game but LionsXII Izwan Mahbud denied his well-guided header with a great save 11 minutes after the break.

Thamil then wasted another good chance, before Izwan was again on hand to thwart Pantelidis minutes before the end.

Fandi was at a loss to explain his team's showing.

When asked if the poor performance was a one-off, he said: "I think so. We were definitely below par.

"The boys were lethargic and made basic errors, so it was very frustrating.

"Maybe the atmosphere was a bit too much for some of our players.

"But we didn't deserve to win because we didn't create enough."

The coach added that the team would play two friendly games in Myanmar in an attempt to rectify their problems, before their next MSL game at home against Johor Darul Ta'zim on May 15.

Selangor coach Mehmet Durakovic said: "We should have scored two or three more goals tonight.

"Thamil and Paulo had fantastic chances to put the game to bed earlier but I'm not worried they missed.

"As long as we keep creating chances, we can win games."

And so it was, that was the difference between the two sides last night.

This article was published on April 20 in The New Paper.

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