LionsXII coach admits he has a lot of work to do following goalless draw with Terengganu
He has preached a philosophy of football based on firepower and finishing - two traits that had defined him as one of Singapore's best ever players.
But Fandi Ahmad readily admits that he now has a lot of work on his hands, as he tries to mould the LionsXII side in his image after a frustrating 0-0 Malaysian Super League (MSL) draw against Terengganu at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
Even visiting coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim conceded that the hosts dominated "70 per cent" of the match.
"We want to say sorry to the fans," Fandi sighed. "Our finishing was disappointing and the final ball was not there. I thought this game was there for us to take."
With Terengganu putting as many as nine men behind the ball to soak and strike, the chances were few and far between for the hosts.
But even when gaps eventually opened up, the LionsXII declined the invitation to score.
None more so than Shahfiq Ghani. The forward had a glorious opportunity to shine in front of 6,188 fans in the 87th minute when he found himself unmarked and the ball teed up perfectly from the left by winger Faris Ramli.
But with his weaker right foot, the 21-year-old volleyed his effort wide in the miss that encapsulated the night the LionsXII had.
"I thought Shahfiq would be the hero when that chance came," Fanndi said. "But it wasn't to be."
Still, the 51-year-old did not want to blame the young forward, who also nearly scored in the 48th minute with a 30-metre free-kick, and credited him for a good show despite not being match-fit.
Said Fandi: "Shahfiq showed good touches and it's good he's getting into such scoring positions."
But there were other aspects that did not please the coach.
Without naming anyone, he intoned: "Some of our players played like individuals. They can't play to the gallery and they can't pass aimlessly."
Midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin was among those whose passes often went astray, much to the dismay of the crowd.
After a disappointing 45 minutes, Zulfahmi was replaced by winger Faris Ramli, who made a positive impact with his penetrating runs down the left.
"Faris gave us a bit of spark," Fandi noted. "We needed him to create something on the flanks."
While the LionsXII were left to rue their inability to score, Terengganu coach Abdul Rahman was a happy tactician.
The 67-year-old former Malaysia coach said: "The LionsXII fell into our trap. Whenever we lost the ball, nine men would form a solid two-layered wall.
"That completely put them off-rhythm. They didn't know what to do.
"The LionsXII were aggressive and pressed us hard but when they missed those chances, their spirit was destroyed."
For now, it is back to the drawing board for the LionsXII as they prepare for their next fixture away at ATM this Saturday.
Fandi said: "Our defence gives 200 per cent. But scoring is our biggest problem.
"We really need a big striker and hopefully, we can bring one in during the transfer window.
"Finishing is an art. It's technique and accuracy first and power comes last.
"We have a lot of work to do."
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories