Written By: Kenneth Ho
LionsXII failed to progress to the Malaysia Cup 2015 semi-finals despite a 2-0 win over Pahang FA in the second leg of the quarter-finals.
A 4-1 loss in the first leg proved too high a mountain to overcome for the LionsXII, but they gave everything they had to do so.
Coach Fandi Ahmad had instructed his side to get a goal as early as possible and they duly delivered with Christopher Van Huizen hitting a superb volley past Khairul Azhan in the 11th minute to open the scoring.
It was game on eight minutes later as Van Huizen did well to release Nazrul Nazari, with the latter crossing for Faris Ramli to head home and make it 2-0.
Trailing by just a goal on aggregate, the LionsXII continued to dominate play but they found it hard to trouble Khairul.
Faris came closest to scoring again in the 34th minute, but to his agony his shot from the edge of the box rebounded off the bar instead.
No chances followed and the half-time whistle soon came for Pahang to regroup, who duly came out in the second half a much-improved side.
Dickson Nwakaeme was a constant thorn in the LionsXII’s defence in the second half and he took just three minutes to trouble the hosts after the restart.
Nwakaeme managed to break free in the 48th minute and delivered a tantalising cut-back into the danger area for Matias Conti, but the striker was unable to connect with it.
The flag then came to the LionsXII’s rescue, as Zesh Rehman saw his header chalked off after he strayed offside.
As the clock winded down, Fandi threw on Gabriel Quak, Sahil Suhaimi and Khairul Nizam but all three did not come close to scoring.
Towards the end, captain Izwan Mahbud was called upon to make a good stop as he denied R Gopinathan at close range in the 89th minute.
The referee soon blew for full-time to end the LionsXII’s involvement in Malaysian club competitions.
LionsXII: Izwan Mahbud (GK) (c), Madhu Mohana (Khairul Nizam 69′), Hafiz Sujad, Nazrul Nazari, Izzdin Shafiq, Shahdan Sulaiman, Faris Ramli (Sahil Suhaimi 78′), Safuwan Baharudin, Christopher Van Huizen (Gabriel Quak 60′), Zulfahmi Arifin, Shakir Hamzah
Pahang FA: Khairul Azhan (GK), Saiful Nizam Miswan, Damion Stewart (C), Abdul Aziz Ismail (Shahrizan Salleh 87′), Zesh Rehman, R Surendran (R Gopinathan 46′), Matias Conti, Dickson Nwakaeme, Azamuddin Akil, Rizua Shafiqi (D Saarvindran 82), Matthew Davies