Defence keen to make amends

Izwan Mahbud clearly takes the goals he concedes very seriously.

Almost 24 hours since letting in Kedah's first goal in the 2-2 draw on Tuesday evening, the LionsXII goalkeeper was still visibly annoyed.

"That goal cannot tahan lah. I saved it you know. Then (the ball) hit him and went in... damn unlucky," he said during training yesterday.

In the 25th minute, Kedah cancelled out Shahril Ishak's opener through Croatian striker Alen Guc.

Guc's first attempt was brilliantly saved by the agile Izwan, but the rebound ricochet off his thigh, then his chest, and looped into goal.

Before Guc's shot, however, Kedah forward Khyril Muhymeen had raced clear into the box thanks to a crucial slip by left back Irwan Shah.

Irwan, into his second season with the team, admitted his performance was "one of his worst" for the LionsXII.

He was replaced by Hafiz Abu Sujad six minutes into the second half.

But his replacement did not have a good outing either.

In injury time, Hafiz, 22, allowed Kedah winger Syafiq Ahmad to cut past him into the penalty box.

The Malaysian player went down just inside the area after Shakir Hamzah caught him with a high boot. Guc converted the resulting penalty for the late equaliser.

"When I saw the replay, I knew I should've done better," Hafiz said.

"It was a 50-50 ball, but I should have gone in harder."

Hafiz added that the team might have been "rusty" after the six-week break since the Malaysian Super League season ended on July 6.

He also rued the absence of central defender Safuwan Baharudin.


Safuwan, who was suspended for the clash on Tuesday, will be back when the LionsXII face Sarawak in Kuching on Saturday.

His return means Shakir, who deputised next to Baihakki Khaizan in the centre against Kedah, will revert to his favourite left back position - allowing coach V Sundramoorthy his first-choice back four.

"Yes, we missed Safuwan because he's such a key part of our defence next to Bai," Shakir said.

"The goals we conceded against Kedah were mistakes we could've prevented. Now, we all want to redeem ourselves in the next match.

"I've never played in Sarawak before. I'm excited to face their fans but also scared that an incident might happen. "Whatever happens, we must come back from there with something."

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