Fandi's LionsXII pay the price for slack defence
Sloppy defending sees Fandi's men slip up
(Helmi Remeli 7, Issey Nakajima-Farran 26, 52, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha 57)
(Madhu Mohana 25, Hafiz Abu Sujad 55)
Poor defending let the LionsXII down in their Malaysian Super League (MSL) clash with Terengganu last night, as they went down 4-2 at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.
Despite being shorn of key players - strikers Khairul Amri and Faris Ramli - due to injuries, Fandi Ahmad's men did not let their heads drop after an early goal by Helmi Remeli.
But a lack of concentration saw them conceding goals immediately after they punctured the opposition's backline.
First, after Madhu Mohana had levelled the scores with a 25th-minute header, the team contrived to allow Terengganu's Canadian-Japanese forward Issey Nakajima-Farran the freedom to lash a shot home from close range barely 60 seconds later.
Nakajima-Farran, who starred in the S.League for Albirex Niigata from 2004 to 2006, made it 3-1 seven minutes into the second half with a cool finish under LionsXII goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.
Some great work by LionsXII winger-turned-fullback Nazrul Ahmad Nazari saw him lay the ball off for Hafiz Abu Sujad to hammer a shot home and pull to within one of the home side in the 55th minute.
Alas, the Singapore side's defensive failings emerged again as some hesitant defending by substitute Faritz Hameed saw Norshahrul Idlan Talaha stab home Terengganu's fourth just two minutes later.
Post-game, Fandi said: "We're disappointed with the result. We came here for at least a point.
"Congratulations to Terengganu, they totally dominated the first 20 minutes.
"We were lethargic, and the boys started sloppily... It's fatigue.
"Now we have to regroup and be ready for the next game, and hopefully it'll be a better result for us."
Fandi hoped to have Amri and Faris back for the LionsXII's next game, at their Jalan Besar Stadium home against league leaders Pahang FA on Saturday.
Last night's loss ended the LionsXII's run of three straight wins, and left them seventh in the 12-team MSL.
Sixth-placed Terengganu, meanwhile, roll on as one of the league's form sides, winning their last four games on the bounce, scoring 15 goals along the way.
Pahang and second-placed Johor Darul Ta'zim are the only other teams with a similar recent winning run.
"We were lethargic, and the boys started sloppily... It’s fatigue."
— LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad
- Felda 0 Kelantan 0
- Johor DT 4 Sime Darby 0
- Pahang 2 ATM 0
- PDRM 3 Perak 2
- Sarawak 1 Selangor 1
Hafiz Abu Sujad.
TEAMS (LIONSXII'S RATINGS)
- TERENGGANU: Sharbinee Allawee, Helmi Remeli, Hasmizan Kamarodin, Vincent Bikana, Zubir Azmi, Issey Nakajima-Farran (Fakhrurazi Musa 62), Nordin Alias, Gustavo Lopez, Ismail Faruqi (Zairo Anuar 73), Ashaari Shamsuddin ((Shahrin Sapien 66), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha.
- LIONSXII: Izwan Mahbud 6.5, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari 7, Zulfahmi Arifin 6, Madhu Mohana 7, Shakir Hamzah 6.5, Safuwan Baharudin 7, Izzdin Shafiq 6, Syafiq Zainal 6 (Faritz Hameed 46, 6.5), Shahdan Sulaiman 6 (Sahil Suhaimi 73), Hafiz Abu Sujad 7, Sufian Anuar 6 (Khairul Nizam 46, 6).
- Rating: 7/10
- TNP Man of the Match: Hafiz Abu Sujad (LionsXII)