Written by: Shawn Lim
SINGAPORE, 24 APRIL 2015: LionsXII will take on Sarawak FA tomorrow at Jalan Besar Stadium hoping to replicate their Malaysia FA Cup form in the Malaysian Super League (MSL).
Fandi Ahmad’s charges are through to the semi-finals of the cup competition for the first time in their history after beating Johor Darul Ta’zim II (JDT II) 4-0 on aggregate over two legs.
However, their MSL form has not reached the same heights, after a loss to Selangor FA in their last league match left the LionsXII still without an away win this season.
While pleased with how his side responded on Wednesday in the FA Cup coming off the heavy defeat, Fandi feels that it is time to turn their attention back to the league.
“We went there (Pasir Gudang Stadium) with the intention of scoring early goals and pressing them from the start,” Fandi told the official LionsXII website.
“Playing with two strikers helped a lot by not allowing them to launch their own attacks
“I thought we did a great job by creating a lot of chances and staying compact. Everyone was fired up to win that day.
“Now, we need to carry over our good performances that we have shown in the Malaysia FA Cup so far to the MSL.”
The LionsXII coach is concerned about fatigue as his side will play their second game in less than a week.
Hinting that he might rotate the squad to keep his players fresh, Fandi urged his fringe players to step up and show why they deserve a spot in the starting line-up.
“Fatigue will be a factor because I can tell some of my players are tired, so they need a lot of rest and stretching,” shared Fandi.
“Hopefully it will motivate other players who haven’t been playing regularly to impress me because there are two to three spots up for grabs. I’m sure they will try their best to win a place in the starting 11.
“I’m also sure that we will try to do whatever we can to win this game and that we have enough strength to get back to winning ways in the league.”
Winger Gabriel Quak, who has been in fine form this season, agrees with his coach.
“We are concerned about our league form because it has been a while since we won a game, and we want to get our second win and start moving up the table.
“We bounced back well against JDT II after the Selangor game. Some people will say our Cup opponents are different from league sides but the quarter-final win was a good boost to our morale, and we hope to carry our Cup form into the league.
“I do hope the fans will turn up to support us. We need them and we will giving our all.”
As for their upcoming opponents Sarawak, Fandi is expecting a tricky fixture despite both sides being evenly matched in their past fixtures as they have won two and lost two games against each other in their past five meetings.
While the Ngap Sayot have only won one game out of their last five in the MSL this season, Fandi feels that the 2013 Malaysia Premier League champions are still a force to be reckoned with.
“Sarawak are very dangerous in set-pieces because they have really tall foreign players. They also have really fast and nifty players like their captain Joseph Kalang Tie,” said Fandi.
“They are a very determined side as well and their greatest strength is that they play as a team.
“We need to work a lot on covering the open spaces and tracking players because their wingers are very fast.”