By Kenneth Tan
With the LionsXII realistically out of contention for the 2014 MSL title, the 23-year-old urges his side to keep pushing on for the last six games
SINGAPORE, 24 May 2014: Now 13 points behind leaders Selangor FA, the 2014 Malaysian Super League (MSL) title looks well beyond reach for the LionsXII.
The initial target of a top-three finish is also looking unlikely, with the developmental side eight points adrift of third-placed Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).
Given that, winger Gabriel Quak believes that his side should now focus on better performances in the six remaining games instead.
“I think we should not talk too much about targets, be it top 3 or top 5,” he told the official LionsXII website before the LionsXII’s training session at ITE College Central, Ang Mo Kio on Friday evening.
“We can say we want to win all six games. But now that we’re in this situation, we should just take one game at a time and focus on trying to win the next game.”
Things have not progressed as smoothly for Fandi Ahmad’s boys as they had wished to be. After a three-week break in the MSL, they have suffered successive defeats against Terengganu FA and JDT.
On a personal level, at least Gabriel is a happier man. Having endured a stop-start season where he only started five out of 14 games, the 23-year-old started that last two games and completed 90 minutes as well.
“That’s what I aimed for,” he said.
“During the break, we went to Myanmar for a training trip and that was where I found my confidence and belief back.
After that, we came back and I felt I did quite well so far. Perhaps against JDT, I could have done better but fatigue was starting to kick in for everyone in the second half.”
The LionsXII have a chance to bounce back from those previous disappointments as they take on ATM FA at home tonight. Despite the latter languishing in ninth position this year, Gabriel is not keen to take a victory for granted.
“The standings prove nothing,” he explained.
“I don’t think the table speaks very well for the MSL, sometimes the bottom teams can also beat the top teams. It just depends on which team wants it more on the day.”
Having let a two-goal advantage slip against JDT the last time out, he hopes that the side has learned from that chastening experience.
“I still don’t know how we let two goals slip,” he said.
“I think we need to learn how to kill it off after getting the first goal. It was a big lesson for us that night in terms of lapses of concentration.”
Coach Fandi is set to make a couple of changes for this clash, bringing back Raihan Rahman to support Zulfahmi Arifin in midfield while installing Shahfiq Ghani just behind Khairul Amri in attack.
Gabriel believes Shahfiq’s inclusion will be a great boost for his side tonight.
“It’s great for him to play,” he said.
“He’s a national player, he can take set pieces, and he links up the play well… he’s the playmaker of the team. For the past two games, we have been using the same players so it’s good to have one or two changes.
Shahfiq has been looking sharp in training so his selection is justified.”
This game against ATM FA will kick-off at 7.45pm tonight at Jalan Besar Stadium. Tickets for the game are still available for this game and fans can get them via TicketBooth. 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 their recent disappointments!