M'sian Super League: Buck up or else...

M'sian Super League: Buck up or else...

He has experienced highs and lows throughout his illustrious career - both as player and coach.

But it has been years since anyone has seen Fandi Ahmad as devastated and despondent as he was during last night's post-match press conference at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

It was not surprising- and indeed forgivable - that the LionsXII coach kept the media waiting for around 15 minutes.

After his side's inexplicable 1-0 defeat by Sime Darby last night, many expected him to give his young charges the hairdryer treatment in the dressing room, much like he did after the 1-1 draw against T-Team two weeks ago.

But the 51-year-old said he did not utter a word to his players.

"I can't say anything to them. They should look at the mirror and ask themselves how they played," Fandi explained.

"If some of these boys are happy just to be part of the LionsXII, then that's real disappointing."


Harsher words were to follow as the session went on.

"This team are supposed to be a developmental side for the national team," he said.

"But, with this kind of performance, I fear it's going to be very bad for Singapore football.

"We still don't know our best 11, because we never can know who will turn up and perform on the pitch. That's very sad."

Fandi's damning judgment was hardly out of place.

Just as they did against T-Team, the LionsXII dominated Sime Darby from start to finish.

But, when poor finishing let them down before, last night gave proof to the Singapore's side lack of creativity in the attacking third.

When Sime Darby, playing with just one foreign import and no Malaysian internationals, struck in first-half injury time through a sublime volley by Syukur Saidin, it was a difficult to imagine just where the LionsXII's response would come from.

Striker Khairul Amri provided a few nifty flicks and back-heels, but managed just one header on target. Winger Nazrul Nazari showed his pace, but was predictable down the flank.

Faris Ramli thrilled the crowd with his footwork and body feints, but his shooting was abysmal.

Even defender Safuwan Baharudin, for so long the team's saviour with his goalscoring exploits, failed to seriously test the opposing goalkeeper.


Still, given that the Singapore side controlled the game, Fandi was adamant his side did not deserve to lose. "Justice was not done tonight," he said.

He lamented the fact that his team have yet to be awarded a penalty this season, after 12 matches.

Sime Darby's Fairuz Aziz clearly handled the ball in the box in the 24th minute. But the referee missed what the majority of the 7,198 fans in attendance didn't.

With league leaders Pahang coming to town on Tuesday, there won't too much time for soul searching. "We shouldn't give up," said Fandi, finally putting on a brave front during the tail-end of the press conference. "I hope we are strong mentally... we really have to buck up."

This article was published on April 13 in The New Paper.

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