Written By: Kenneth Ho
LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad expressed his gratitude for being allowed to be part of a “special team” after the LionsXII’s involvement in Malaysian competitions came to an end on Saturday evening.
The LionsXII had to beat Pahang FA by a score of at least 3-0 to progress to the Malaysia Cup 2015 semi-finals, but unfortunately they could only muster a 2-0 victory at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
With the Football Association of Malaysia not renewing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which the LionsXII and Harimau Muda participate in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) and S.League respectively, the LionsXII will no longer be playing in Malaysia when the current deal ends at the end of the year.
While Fandi was disappointed that his side could not end on a high and make it all the way to the Malaysia Cup final, he insisted he was proud that they gave everything they had and ended the 2015 season with an unbeaten home record.
“We performed quite well but today it was something different, there was more spark and more fire,” Fandi said.
“It was just not our day. But it’s amazing, we didn’t lose any match at Jalan Besar Stadium.”
Fandi was also proud that his time with the LionsXII has seen the emergence of several players, with some becoming regulars for the National Team.
“I am just happy to be part of this special team,” Fandi said.
“We are proud of our performance during the past four years. Apart from the 2013 MSL and 2015 FA Cup success, one recent media report pointed out that only Kelantan and Pahang have collected more silverware than us – an all-local side – during this period.”
He added, “It has been a positive journey for our players who have benefitted from the exposure, and also in playing together as a team. My officials and I are happy to see the likes of Nazrul Nazari, Zulfahmi Arifin, Madhu Mohana and Christopher van Huizen, among others, progressing to the National Team where they are now key players.”
Pahang coach Zainal Abidin had words of praise for the LionsXII after the match, as he expressed hopes that he may see them involved in the league again in the future.
“The LionsXII play good football and at a high level,” Zainal said.
“I wish to see them back in the Malaysian league one day.”