Written by: Nigel Chin
LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad heaped praise on his charges for the “fantastic performance” they put in against Kelantan FA on Saturday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The Singapore side defeated the Red Warriors 3-0 with goals from Faris Ramli and Khairul Amri as they dominated the entire game.
This win was their fifth league victory of the season and it extended their unbeaten run at home to nine games.
The seventh-placed LionsXII now inch closer towards the top-half of the table, trailing sixth-placed PDRM FA and fifth-placed Felda United and by just one and two points respectively.
“I thought it was a fantastic performance from start to end,” Fandi said.
“We dominated and created chances, but at one point I was worried because we were missing chances and thought they might come back in the second half.
“I thought we did very well today… it was one of the best games.”
Fandi also singled out three players for praise – Shahdan Sulaiman, Khairul Amri and two-goal Faris Ramli all played a huge role in the win over Kelantan.
Shahdan Sulaiman was given his first start of the season in the match and the attacking midfielder repaid his coach’s faith in him by setting up Faris for the third goal, while Amri netted one to end his eight-match goal drought in the league.
“Fantastic effort from him (Shahdan), he lasted 90 minutes, and that’s very good after six, seven months out,” Fandi stated.
“This is the time we believe he can help the team because of his technical ability, his vision, and playing those penetrative passes with good runs from other players.
“I thought he was very comfortable after so long, and he played a good triangle with Safuwan (Baharudin) and Izzdin (Shafiq). I’m just happy for him to be back.
“Amri worked very hard, I spoke to him, he was also frustrated. Today I told him to be patient and make it count when it comes. He got into good positions where he can score goals – that’s very important for strikers.
“Faris was good – he was creating, got free-kicks in dangerous area. It doesn’t matter to me who is the man of the match, but I thought Faris did very well to score two goals after a tough SEA Games and all the fatigue.”
Meanwhile, Fandi’s opposite number Kelantan coach Azraai Khor Abdullah conceded that his side were outclassed by their opponents.
“We had a bad day, it was not our night. To me, we lost to a better team,” the experienced coach said.
“This is football, sometimes you have a better day, sometimes you have a bad day.”