Malaysian Super League: Fandi's men fail to impress

LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad didn't have to say a lot last night - his reaction when he faced the press said it all.

When the 52-year-old was asked what he thought of his team's performance in their 0-0 draw with Sarawak in their Malaysian Super League (MSL) match at the Jalan Besar Stadium, he closed his eyes, shook his head and puffed out his cheeks.

"We didn't play our best football, but we created chances and should have won," he said.

"Whether it's luck or not, we simply could not finish.

"That's the story of our season."

Last night's draw meant the LionsXII avoided a ninth defeat of the season, but there was little else that was positive about the outcome.

Eighth in the 12-team MSL and out of the running for the MSL title, last season's champions had enough about them to see off Sarawak, who had lost two away games on the bounce.

They started the game brightly and just 58 seconds had elapsed when Gabriel Quak saw his shot cleared off the line by Crocs' defender Ronny Harun.

But that was as good as it got for the home side, who put on an insipid performance.

Their poor showing was typified by a counter-attacking move in the 17th minute.

Skipper Safuwan Baharudin led a six-versus-four raid into the Sarawak half but, with the visiting defence panicking and back-tracking, the 22-year-old played a poor pass meant for Faris Ramli straight out.

It drew a chorus of boos from the 4,986 fans - the LionsXII's lowest fan turnout at Jalan Besar of the season.

Safuwan almost made amends in the second half, but his header off Quak's free-kick came off the crossbar.

Baihakki Khaizan hammered the rebound home, but referee Syed Azhar Kamar had already blown his whistle as Khairul Amri had been flagged offside.

The only bright spot for the hosts was the fullback Faritz Hameed, who kept Sarawak winger S Chanturu quiet and also bombed forward the whole game, delivering great crosses into the box.

Fandi said his side were targeting at least one more win from the remaining three games to secure a top-10 finish and an automatic spot in the Malaysia Cup, but stressed his players need to buck up.

Sarawak coach Robert Alberts said: "It was a valuable point for us.

"It's not easy coming to Singapore and getting a point.

"They (LionsXII) had some good moves, but maybe we defended well and didn't give them space for clear chances."

LIONSXII: Izwan Mahbud 6, Faritz Hameed 7, Baihakki Khaizan 6.5, Afiq Yunos 6.5, Shakir Hamzah 7, Raihan Rahman 6.5, Safuwan Baharudin 5.5, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari 5.5 (Aqhari Abdullah 81), Gabriel Quak 5.5 (Shahfiq Ghani 51, 6), Faris Ramli 6.5, Khairul Amri 6 (Sufian Anuar 73)

SARAWAK: Fazdley Rahim, Mafry Balang, Hairol Moktar, Ronny Harun, Mazwadi Zekeria, Rasyid Aya (Asri Chuchu 51), Lot Abu Hassan (Reeshafiq Alwi 67), Junior Eldstal, S Chanturu (Sahrol Saperi 85), Joseph Kalang Tie, Ryan Griffiths

Shots: LionsXII 3 on, 4 off; Sarawak 3 on, 4 off

Corners: LionsXII 1, Sarawak 2

Offsides: LionsXII 1, Sarawak 1

Yellow cards: LionsXII 3 (Faritz Hameed, Shakir Hamzah, Faris Ramli), Sarawak 4

Attendance: 4,986

Referee: Syad Azhar Kamar 4/10

Match rating: 3.5/10

Man of the Match: Faritz Hameed (LionsXII)

OTHER RESULTS:

Sime Darby 4 Perak 0 Pahang 1 Kelantan 0 T-Team 2 PKNS 0


This article was first published on June 15, 2014.
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