Written by: Shawn Lim
They may be the underdogs going into the Malaysia Cup final on Saturday, but the LionsXII are aiming to bring the fight to Kelantan FA.
Speaking to the official LionsXII website after a training session, LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad said: “Of course we want to win, but it is important that we think positive and go there with an open mind.
“We have got nothing to lose because we are underdogs and the players must enjoy playing in the finals with a raucous atmosphere.
“They no need any more motivation from the coaches because every player’s’ dream is to play in a big final like this.”
Fandi cut an emotional figure after his side 3-2 loss to Terengganu FA in the second leg of the semi-final, which saw the LionsXII qualify for the final on away goals rule after the game ended 4-4 on aggregate.
The 52-year-old explained that he was overcome with emotion after seeing how hard his side fought to ensure that they secured a place in the final.
“It was tears of joy because we were struggling throughout the season with a lot of injuries and we made it to the (Malaysia FA Cup) finals, so it’s an achievement for the team and I was really happy for them,” said Fandi.
“They fought very hard and the morale was very good. Everyone wanted to play for the team and it was not easy because the last 30 minutes, it was like playing in hell for the boys.
“I’m also proud of them because they always play with pride and passion. I really salute them because it’s not easy playing against good foreigners.
“We were wide apart in terms of ability because they have so many talented players, but we fought very hard and the experienced players like Safuwan (Baharudin) and (Khairul) Amri really stepped up.”
Echoing his coach’s sentiments, winger Gabriel Quak said: “We have nothing to lose because we are the underdogs. We are going there to enjoy playing in the final and give Kelantan a good fight.
“Anything can happen in the final, so hopefully we can put on our best display and win the cup.”
Both Fandi and Quak also thanked the fans for their support and hoped that the team will be able to repay the faith the fans have placed in them.
Said Fandi: “We hope to recapture the good moment of Singapore football by winning the Cup.
“I would like to thank the fans for coming to as far as Terengganu or anywhere in Malaysia that we have played in throughout the season.
“We will try to do our best and we hope that that we will be able to give them some joy after the final.”