LionsXII draw on grit & fight

Fandi Ahmad has made it abundantly clear that nothing but grim determination can help the LionsXII to a successful Malaysian Super League (MSL) season, and his men responded to that call with a gritty 2-2 draw at Perak last night.

Pre-match, the hosts remained one of only two sides (the other being Kelantan) in the 12-team competition yet to concede, but it took just four minutes for the Singapore team to breach the fortress in Ipoh. Roaming to the left, attacking midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin curled a cross to pick out Faris Ramli.

The winger then cut a low ball across the box to tee up striker Khairul Amri, who rammed a piledriver into the top corner.

While coach Fandi will have no complaints about his fire-power for this match, his men were caught dozing at the back when Brazilian striker Charles Souza Chad arrived unmarked at the far post to stab an inswinging free kick home in the 27th minute.

And the defensive problems piled up four minutes after the break when centre-back Madhu Mohana was unable to head a cross clear, allowing South Korean forward Namkung Woong time and space to glance the ball past goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.

But the LionsXII never caved in despite relentless pressure from Perak and fought back to equalise. Midfielder Firdaus Kasman scored his first MSL goal in style in the 68th minute to earn a precious point, firing a venomous dipping volley past Perak goalkeeper Zamir Selamat after Brazilian defender Thiago Aquino messed up an ambitious bicycle-kick clearance.

The LionsXII's next fixture is an FA Cup first-round clash next Saturday against third division side PB Melayu in Kedah.

This article was first published on Feb 22, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.