LionsXII fail to make honourable exit

LionsXII fail to make honourable exit
Faris Ramli (left) pulled one back for the LionsXII but Felda went on to claim all three points.

Bouyed by a 2-1 success against Malaysia Cup holders Pahang in their last game, the LionsXII had hoped to end their tournament campaign with another stirring victory.

But even without the weight of pressure - since they were out of the running for a quarter-final slot - the LionsXII meekly fell 1-3 away to Group A leaders Felda United in their last group match at the Stadium Majlis Perbandaran in Selayang last night.

Faris Ramli's 21st-minute goal was the only reply for the Singapore outfit who went down to efforts from Zah Rahan (8th minute), Indra Putra (25th minute) and Makeche Ndumba (27th minute).

The night's outing was soured even further for the visitors when midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin was sent off in the 92nd minute after getting his second yellow card.

The result confirmed Felda as the winners of Group A, and with that a place in the knock-out stages with 13 points.

The LionsXII remain in third spot with five points, ahead of bottom side Johor Darul Takzim II only via a better goal difference, after the latter drew 1-1 against second-placed Pahang, who also progressed with 10 points.

Although coach Fandi Ahmad would have been consoled by his side's never-say-die spirit, he would not have been pleased by their porous defence.

This, even though they had the experienced Baihakki Khaizan partnering Afiq Yunos in the heart of defence.

Stalwart Safuwan Baharudin, who was rested initially, was brought on as a first-half substitute.

In the end, it was goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud who prevented the loss from becoming an embarrassment as he made numerous saves to deny the three goalscorers throughout the game.

Still, Felda were not to be denied.

Their first goal came when Liberian midfielder Zah received a pass 30m away from goal.

Unmarked, he gratefully accepted the invitation to shoot, lashing home a right-footed shot that flew past an outstretched Izwan into the bottom corner of the net.

The LionsXII threatened to stage another comeback win when they equalised 13 minutes later through Faris.

He made no mistake from his second shot from metres in front of the goal after his first shot had been repelled by goalkeeper Farizal Harun.

But the LionsXII's shaky backline was always prone to being exposed, which was exactly what Felda did through a two-minute quickfire double from former Malaysia international Indra and his strike partner Ndumba in the 25th and 27th minute.

The Zambian frontman was the provider for the first, crossing into the box for Indra to stab home off Izwan.

Two minutes later, he burst past both Baihakki and Afiq to race through on goal and tip the ball over the goalkeeper to consign the LionsXII to their third defeat of what has been a poor Cup campaign.

terong@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 03, 2014.
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