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LionsXII defeated by Young Lions in MSL warm-up

LionsXII defeated by Young Lions in MSL warm-up

LionsXII 1-3 Courts Young Lions

(Ignatius Ang 69′) (Sahil Suhaimi 30′ pen, Muhaymin Salim 65′, Amy Recha 67′)

SINGAPORE, 1 January, 2014 : The new-look LionsXII side fell to a 3-1 defeat against their Courts Young Lions counterparts at ITE College Ang Mo Kio yesterday evening in a warm-up game for the upcoming Malaysian Super League (MSL) season.

Sahil Suhaimi gave the Young Lions the lead in the first half through a penalty. After the break, Muhaymin Salim and Amy Recha added goals in quick succession as Aide Iskandar’s side raced into a 3-0 lead.

Although Ignatius Ang pulled one back thereafter for the LionsXII, the reigning MSL champions was unable to prevent defeat.

New LionsXII gaffer Fandi Ahmad handed Syafiq Zainal a starting berth as the lone striker, with wingers Gabriel Quak and Khairul Amri in support.

Syafiq found himself in the clear twice in the opening stages after defensive mistakes from the Young Lions backline, but failed to put both efforts on target.

Meanwhile Courts Young Lions’ Fareez Farhan struck the bar with a swerving 30-yard freekick.

Another defensive mistake from Aide’s side near the half-hour mark allowed Quak to race through on goal, but the 23-year-old was superbly closed down by Syazwan Buhari. That resulted in a superb counterattacking move from the Young Lions which saw Sahil being brought down by Afiq Yunos inside the box.

The 21-year-old dusted himself off and duly sent Abdul Qaqir the wrong way from the 12-yard spot.

The LionsXII tried to muster a response thereafter but were denied by some heroics from Syazwan – smothering a Quak long shot before parrying a fierce Amri drive away from goal.

Sufian Anuar and Aqhari Abdullah were soon brought on to bolster the attack, while electric winger Nazrul Nazari made an appearance after the break.

Nazrul could have had an immediate impact as his cross picked out Amri inside the box, but the latter could only see his diving header sail agonizingly wide of goal.

Faris Ramli and Ignatius Ang were also thrown on but to no avail, as the Young Lions ruthlessly found the net twice in two minutes.

Sahil’s 65th-minute free-kick was knocked down into the path of Muhaymin, as the 21-year-old swiveled well to hit a stunning volley past the rooted LionsXII substitute keeper.

It was not soon before they found the killer blow, as Shameer Aziq squared a superb ball across the goalmouth for Amy to apply the finishing touch.

Ang did pull one back for the LionsXII a couple of minutes later via a right-footed effort which evaded Syazwan at his near post.

However that was all Fandi’s side could muster thereafter as the Young Lions held their fort well in the closing stages.

Defender Safuwan Baharudin had to be stretchered off in the closing stages after an innocuous knock.

Fandi: We need to fine-tune our finishing and fitness levels

Despite the defeat, Fandi was pleased to have seen his side carrying out what he had taught in training for the past couple of weeks.

“Even though we lost, I think we played well especially in the first half,” said the 51-year-old.

“We controlled the game, had a lot of touches and penetrative runs. Also we created enough chances to finish off the game.”

However finishing and fitness levels are two key areas which he wants his side to improve as time comes along.

“We’ll need to fine-tune our finishing,” he assessed.

“We had two to three open chances in the first half which we should have buried.

Also the fitness was a bit suspect especially in the second half. We were a bit down in the last 35 minutes, whereas Young Lions were the fitter and stronger side.”

The LionsXII will next travel to Indonesia for a three-game training tour in their final preparations for the upcoming MSL season.

With less than three weeks to go before the season-opener against Pahang FA, Fandi is keeping his fingers crossed that his side do not sustain any further injuries.

“I’m not sure about (the extent of) Safuwan’s injury,” he shared.

“He went to the hospital right after the game for a medical check-up. With the new season coming along, I just hope we do not have any more injuries.”

Do check back on the FAS website and Facebook page for more updates of the LionsXII as they gear up for MSL season 2014!