By Nigel Chin
SINGAPORE, 21 JUNE 2014: The LionsXII has not been enjoying the best run of results in recent, with the team having won just twice in their last eight matches.
As well as ceding the title this year, the Singapore developmental team is languishing in eighth spot in the league table, having won only seven games in the league all year. While the team has performed well in the majority of its games, it is the inability to score or defend a lead that is costing the team. Coupled with injuries, it has not exactly been a smooth-sailing year so far.
That is a point not lost on Head Coach Fandi Ahmad, who lamented the numerous injuries suffered as well as the fact that the team lacks a lethal finisher up front like he was in his heyday.
“We have lost a lot of players throughout the season at various times, and that has hit us hard in terms of consistency,” said Fandi.
“Also, the fact that sometimes we have no out-and-out striker hinders us, although I know it is no excuse; people must understand it takes time for us because most of these players are still young.
“What people don’t realise is that our defence has been really strong actually. But because sometimes we can’t finish our chances the team will lose confidence, which results in them conceding some goals they otherwise wouldn’t let in.”
However, what has been pleasing for the former Singapore International is that players from all departments have been stepping up to contribute. Safuwan Baharudin, a natural defender, has already scored five, while winger Faris Ramli has added another three of his own. In the last game against Selangor PKNS, Gabriel Quak too opened his account in the league with a stunning goal.
“I’m happy for Gabriel who has finally scored his first league goal. It has been coming,” stated Fandi.
“It’s been good that other players are stepping up, which is what we really need.”
“But for Gabriel, I’m hoping to see more from him. Faris already has three goals and I don’t see why he cannot score as many if not more. He has a lot of talent but maybe he just needs to play more consistently, as he tends to fade off totally as the game progresses in the second half.”
While the game against PKNS ended in a 2-1 defeat, Fandi was adamant in going all out to get the three points to end the season on a high, as well as to thank the fans for sticking with the LionsXII through thick and thin.
“Definitely we have to go for a win. We want to gain momentum going into the Malaysia Cup competition, and a win against Perak will allow me the chance to let some of the fringe players like Iggy (Ignatius Ang) and Emmeric (Ong) play in the final match.
“Also, what’s more important is that we thank these fans who have supported us in every way properly. We want to put on a show for them tomorrow.”
This was also a view expressed by Afiq Yunos. The centre-back said, “We will be playing to the game plan that Coach Fandi has arranged for us, and definitely we will do our best for the fans that have shown us support for us throughout.
“We will put on a good show for them and hopefully that will result in a win.”
The game against Perak FA will kick-off at 7.45pm tonight at Jalan Besar Stadium. Tickets for the game remain available for this game and fans can purchase them via TicketBooth. For those who are unable to obtain tickets, you can catch the game ‘LIVE’ via Starhub Channel 201 (SuperSports Arena). Do support the boys as they aim to bounce back from Tuesday night’s defeat!