Fandi calls for grit, tells LionsXII to go for the jugular

SINGAPORE - Steel is at the top of Fandi Ahmed's wish list. As in steely resolve from his senior players to engineer a form revival.

The LionsXII, who face Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) II tonight, are still reeling from their embarrassing 0-4 loss to Selangor last Saturday in the Malaysian Super League (MSL).

It was the team's heaviest defeat since their 2012 debut season and the coach wants his most experienced players to find a way out of the slump.

Specifically, he is looking toIzwan Mahbud, Khairul Amri and Isa Halim to lead the way in that respect. "Players like Izwan, Amri and Isa must lead the team now," said Fandi.

"The senior players have international experience, especially Amri and Isa, so they must show that you have to work hard even if the results are not going our way.

"It was a bad match against Selangor and the goals we conceded came from bad errors. The experienced ones must tell the younger players that they have to forget it and do better in the next match."

Amri too has urged the young side to show their collective grit. "We spoke as a team and said that we must put the last match behind us and do better in the next one," said the team's top scorer.

"Mistakes happen in football but we have to go again and show our true strengths."

Tonight, the LionsXII travel to the Pasir Gudang Stadium for the second leg of the Malaysia FA Cup quarter-final clash against JDT II, holding a 2-0 lead after Amri and Christopher Van Huizen netted in the first leg at the Jalan Besar Stadium on April 8.

Fandi is set to reinstate captain Isa Halim into the line-up.

The midfielder, who has been in indifferent form, has not featured in the last five games since being replaced at half-time by Sahil Suhaimi in the 1-1 draw with Terengganu on 14 March this year.

Despite the 2-0 first-leg advantage, Fandi has told his side that they need to go for the jugular tonight.

"We cannot sit back and try to defend our lead. We will get punished," said the 52-year-old who is in his second season as LionsXII coach. "I am fielding my strongest XI and I want them to take the game to JDT from the kick-off."

This article was first published on April 22, 2015.
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