SINGAPORE, 20 MARCH 2015: LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad is refusing to take KL SPA Putrajaya lightly when the two teams meet in the FA Cup Round of 16 on Saturday at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
KL SPA have had a torrid season so far, as they find themselves rooted to the bottom of the Malaysia Premier League, with only a solitary point to their name after five games.
However, Fandi believes this is no reason for his team to even let their guard down for a bit, especially after what he saw during their game against PB Melayu Kedah in the last round. The third-tier team gave LionsXII a tough opening 30 minutes before eventually capitulating to a 4-0 loss.
“Playing these teams like SPA and Kedah, you need to stamp your authority right from the start,” Fandi said.
“If you give them time, they settle down and get more confidence, then you will have the same game as Kedah, where they could have scored in the starting 20 minutes. So our boys must stay focused and never underestimate the opponents.”
It will be the first time in a while LionsXII have no fresh injuries to report, apart from the usual long-term absentees, leaving Fandi with many options at his disposal for the game.
The LionsXII coach will assess his squad on Friday and decide whether the likes of Christopher van Huizen and Sahil Suhaimi get their first starts of the season.
Regardless of who starts, Fandi expects his team to put forth a fully-committed performance right from the opening whistle.
“We’re going into this game with the mentality that we need to win this game, our boys must have the discipline and try to settle down as quickly as possible,” the former Singapore international said.
“Our mental preparation must be strong, and everybody must be at their best because we cannot underestimate anybody.
“A Cup game is a Cup game, we don’t want them to score a goal and end up parking the bus, then that will be a big problem.
“No two ways about it, we have to go for a win. We must try to score as early as possible.”