Malaysia Cup: Shahfiq sorry for his error

He has apologised for his mistake, and we're all behind him.

LionsXII skipper Shahril Ishak said the Malaysian Super League (MSL) champions have moved on from Shahfiq Ghani's moment of madness in the 2-1 defeat in a Malaysia Cup clash against Sarawak on Saturday.

Striker Shahfiq had been on the pitch only four minutes when he was given marching orders for slapping Sarawak player Muamer Selibasic in the 69th minute.

The 21-year-old's red mist cost the team dearly - Sarawak were awarded a penalty for the slap, which was converted by Joseph Kallang Tie for the Crocs' second goal of the night.

LionsXII coach V Sundramoorthy said Shahfiq "let the team down" with his indiscipline.

But after the LionsXII players arrived back in Singapore yesterday evening, Shahril said: "Shahfiq's been feeling really down.

Frustrated

"I spoke to him right after the game and he said he was frustrated at the shoving that was going on before the slap. "But he knows what he did was wrong, and he apologised to the whole team. The boys are all behind him.

"After all, every player makes mistakes now and then."

Shahril, who came on only at halftime against Sarawak because of a knee injury, added: "On the pitch, I didn't see what happened so I tried to appeal to the referee.

"But after the game, watching a video of what happened, it was clear-cut. There's no hiding (what he did)."

The LionsXII's acting team manager Azrulnizam Shah said that no internal disciplinary action has been taken against Shahfiq, who will automatically miss his team's next two games.

Saturday night wasn't the first time Shahfiq landed himself in disciplinary trouble this season.

In April, Shahfiq needlessly got himself sent off late during a 3-1 win over ATM FA in an MSL match for a crude lunge on ATM fullback K Reuben.

Not only did he mar a potential Manof- the-Match performance (he scored two goals), he also injured his own ankle making the challenge and was ruled out for six weeks.

But Shahril is confident the hotheaded starlet will mature over time.

He said: "Shahfiq is young and full of energy, and maybe he doesn't know how to keep his emotions in control yet. "He will learn from incidents like these."

Looking ahead, Shahril admitted spirits are not exactly soaring in the LionsXII dressing room, following the team's first two Malaysia Cup games, both against second-tier opposition.

Tipped as one of the competition's favourites, the LionsXII drew 2-2 with Kedah in their opening match, and then followed it up with the Sarawak defeat.

But Shahril says a good result against Perak in Ipoh on Tuesday night would make a world of difference.

"We are all a bit disappointed because this was definitely not the start we were looking for," he said.

"Now we have a tough game away at Perak, and our mission is simple: Survive. We will go out for a win, but at the same time we must make sure we cannot lose. "If we get a positive result there, it would give us a great boost for our two remaining home games, which are must-win matches. "We still have a good chance to make it through to the knock-out rounds."


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