The LIONSXII theme song

LionsXII advance into first-ever FA Cup final

LionsXII advance into first-ever FA Cup final

Written by: Nigel Chin

LionsXII will make their first-ever Malaysia FA Cup Final appearance after winning on the away goals rule against Terengganu FA despite falling to a 3-2 defeat.

A brace from Paulo Rangel and another effort from Norshahrul Idlan helped Terengganu to win the second-leg, but a pair of magnificent goals from Khairul Amri ensured that the Singapore side hold the advantage on away goals with the aggregate at 4-4.

While the Turtles dominated for the entire match, it was the LionsXII who took the lead twice in the first half.

Both Rangel and Issey Nakajima missed easy chances after Norshahrul Idlan set them up, and LionsXII took the lead shortly in the 18th minute.

A searching ball from Nazrul Nazari found Amri, who controlled it superbly with his chest. He then rounded Sharbinee Allawee and dummied both Vincent Bikana and Hasmizan Kamarodin, before slotting the ball into the empty net.

But the lead lasted for just four minutes in a match played at frantic pace from start to finish, with Rangel levelling things up with a looping header off Nakajima’s cross over Izwan Mahbud into the goal.

Yet, LionsXII refused to give up and seized the advantage against the run of play once more.

Izzdin Shafiq’s free-kick delivery into the area was nodded out by Safuwan Baharudin nicely for Amri outside the area.  The Singapore international needed no further invitation and smashed a volley off his left foot into the top corner to regain the lead in the 28th minute.

But Terengganu kept up the unrelenting pressure, forcing Izwan into saves on numerous occasions. This eventually got them their second equaliser of the game after Safuwan Baharudin conceded a penalty inside injury time.

Rangel made no mistake from the spot, and ensured that Terengganu trailed by just a goal on aggregate going into the half-time break.

It was the same story after the restart, as Terengganu continued their onslaught on Izwan’s goal.

Amri almost got a hat-trick in the 55th minute, but his curling effort was just inches wide of the post.

Four minutes later, Norshahrul gave Terengganu the lead in the game.

A cross was not dealt with properly by the LionsXII defence and the Malaysia striker sent a scissors-kick past Izwan into the top corner.

However, that was the last time the hosts will find a way past Izwan, with the LionsXII all-time appearance holder pulling off save after save to deny his opponents.

Terengganu thought they scored the equaliser right at the death through Nordin Alias, but the midfielder was correctly flagged for offside as the referee chalked off his effort.

The decision did not sit well with both Rangel and Gustavo Lopez, and they saw red in quick succession for unsportsmanlike behaviour, and the LionsXII held on against the nine men for their maiden appearance in the Malaysia Cup Final.

Terengganu FA: Sharbinee Allawee (GK), Helmi Remeli, Vincent Bikana, Hasmizan Kamarodin, Zubir Azmi, Nordin Alias, Zairo Anuar (C), Issey Nakajima-Farran (Ismail Faruqi 41’), Gustavo Lopez, Norshahrul Idlan (Ashari Samsudin 79’), Paulo Rangel

LionsXII: Izwan Mahbud (GK)(C), Raihan Rahman (Firdaus Kasman 46’), Madhu Mohana, Zulfahmi Arifin, Hafiz Sujad, Izzdin Shafiq, Safuwan Baharudin, Nzarul Nazari, Gabriel Quak, Khairul Amri (Isa Halim 90’), Khairul Nizam (Sufian Anuar 64’)