The LIONSXII theme song

LionsXII advance into quarters as group winners

LionsXII advance into quarters as group winners

Written by: Nigel Chin

LionsXII finished at the top of Group A in the 2015 Malaysia Cup with four wins from six matches after defeating Terengganu FA on Wednesday evening.

Fandi Ahmad’s men had to come from behind to secure the victory, with Sufian Anuar cancelling Dhiyaul Rahman Hasry’s opener for the hosts, before substitute Christopher Van Huizen scored the winner in the dying minutes.

The game was marred by a torrential downpour, with play halted for 30 minutes after the officials had deemed the pitch unplayable midway through the second half.

The Singapore side could have opened the scoring after just three minutes when Zulfahmi Arifin delivered the ball to Khairul Amri inside the box, only for the Singapore international to volley over.

That was the only contribution Amri made in the game, after the striker aggravated his hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Sufian in the ninth minute.

The Turtles took the lead in the 15th minute through Rahman, after Norshahrul Idlan Talaha skipped past Shakir Hamzah and Zulfahmi Arifin before cutting the ball back for the youngster to slot in.

But the Singapore side responded immediately, with Sufian smashing a shot into the top corner after Terengganu left-back Zubir Azmi made a mess of his clearance.

Hafiz Sujad then forced Sharbinee Allawee into a flying save from the edge of the box, before the Terengganu keeper had to tip over Sufian’s cheeky back-flick minutes later.

The second half was disrupted by the pouring rain, with both teams resorting to long balls on the waterlogged pitch.

But play continued, and LionsXII escaped when an unmarked Ismail Faruqi fired an effort against the underside of the crossbar which bounced out.

The match officials eventually stopped the game temporarily, before play resumed half an hour later.

Both Hafiz and Izzdin Shafiq sent their efforts wide within minutes of the restart, before Ismail was denied on three occasions – twice by Izwan and once by a sliding Madhu Mohana.

Faris Ramli almost netted an sensational effort from just inside Terengganu’s half after spotting Sharbinee off his line in the 80th minute, but the Malaysian custodian recovered just in time to palm it out.

That was the winger’s last bit of action before he made way for Van Huizen, and within nine minutes of coming on, the 22-year-old found the back of the net.

After seeing his initial shot punched away by Sharbinee, Van Huizen ghosted towards the far post to meet Sufian’s deflected attempt from the rebound to slot past the hapless Terengganu goalkeeper and secure the three points.

The LionsXII will now face Group D runners up Pahang FA in the quarter-finals.

LionsXII: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Shakir Hamzah, Madhu Mohana, Zulfahmi Arifin, Nazrul Nazari, Izzdin Shafiq, Safuwan Baharudin, Hafiz Sujad, Faris Ramli (Christopher Van Huizen 80’), Sahil Suhaimi (Raihan Rahman 90’), Khairul Amri (Sufian Anuar 10’)