By Kenneth Tan
After a disappointing 2-1 loss against Terengganu FA last Saturday, the 23-year-old wants his side to bounce back on Tuesday night
SINGAPORE, 20 May 2014: It was a good chance for the squad to build a good momentum after the three-week Malaysian Super League (MSL) break.
However, the LionsXII was unable to get a positive result away at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium last Saturday night as they fell 2-1 to a rejuvenated Terengganu FA side. An early Khairul Amri goal proved to be a false dawn as Javier Estupiñán and Zairo Anuar scored to seal the win for the hosts.
It was a defeat which left the players frustrated, including centre-back Afiq Yunos.
“I felt our defence was rather solid that day,” he told the official LionsXII website after his side’s training session on Monday night.
“With Bai (Baihakki Khaizan) back, we did quite okay. For the first goal we conceded, we should have marked our man till the end; for the second, the decision could have gone either way.”
Although Afiq enjoyed pairing up with the experienced Baihakki at the heart of defence, he will have to cope with a change of defensive partner for tonight’s big clash against Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
The loan deal with JDT stipulates that Baihakki will play no part against his parent club. Thus, Afiq is likely to reprise the partnership with stand-in captain Safuwan Baharudin at the back. It is a switch which he believes will not affect the side.
“There should no issue,” he insisted.
“There is not much difference between Safuwan and Bai, apart from the fact that Bai has much more experience. I work fine with either of them.”
The LionsXII has only kept three clean sheets all season – a statistic which Afiq feels his side should improve on, starting from Tuesday night onwards.
“I hope we don’t concede any goals this time round,” said the centre-back who played in the 2-all draw between the two sides in Larkin back in January.
“It’s going to be a very tough game – it’s like a derby game between Manchester United and Manchester City. Everyone is excited about this game.
They have really experienced and top-class players like Safee Sali and Mat Yo (Norshahrul Idlan Talaha), thus we need to give our 100 percent against them. Upfront, we need to take our chances, but of course a clean sheet will be very good for us.”
Despite being 13 points off the lead and in at eighth position, Afiq remains adamant that his side can still do the improbable.
“I think the title is still possible,” he said.
“But we have to win every game to achieve that. I think if we keep going, we can still get into the top 3 – that should be good enough for us this season.”
This much-awaited game against JDT will kick off at 7.45pm tonight at Jalan Besar Stadium. Tickets for the game are already sold out. For those who are unable to obtain tickets, you can catch the game ‘LIVE’ via StarHub Channel 201 (SuperSports Arena).
Do support the boys as they aim to bounce back from Saturday night’s defeat!