The LIONSXII theme song

LionsXII out to silence doubters

LionsXII out to silence doubters

Written By: Shawn Lim

LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad has called on his players to show their character and mental strength when they pay a visit to Terengganu FA in their final Malaysia Cup Group A match on Wednesday night.

The LionsXII currently sit atop the group with 10 points and will progress to the quarter-finals of competition should they avoid a defeat at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium.

Even if they do lose, a Kedah failure to beat Johor Darul Ta’zim II will also suffice for the LionsXII to qualify for the next round.

However, Fandi wants his players to attack the Turtles straight out of the gate and show why they deserve to have a slot in the next round.

“We want to go with a positive mindset because we want to score an early goal. We have to show our character there,” said the 53-year-old.

“We have always not done well there (Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium), but perhaps this is the time we can prove them wrong again. We will have to combat as a unit.

“I believe we have a good chance. What we want is a true belief in the team that we have done it before and we can do it again.”

With goals in mind, the LionsXII organised a friendly against amateur side Jungfrau Punggol last Friday to sharpen their attacking skills and movement.

The practice match – in which the LionsXII scored 11 goals – was a success, Fandi said, as it allowed him to experiment with his fringe players and helped the team get in shape for the Terengganu game.

“The friendly game was good because we wanted to see some of the reserve players who have not been playing, some injured players who just came back, as well as work on our attacking movement,” explained Fandi.

“We want to be more attack-minded, we want players to score goals – which we did, as they scored about 11 goals.

“We also wanted to see the progress of our training because we have been doing a lot of attacking play as we want to get an early goal there (in Terengganu).

“We want to go there with a right frame of mind; the important thing is we want and need to score goals even though the score does not matter.

“We have to set a target of scoring early goals when we are there. We defend and attack as team.”

Echoing Fandi’s sentiments was Shahdan Sulaiman, who scored a fantastic goal in LionsXII’s last home match, a victory against Johor Darul Ta’zim II.

“It is very important to get a result because it is still up to us, and we don’t have to rely on other teams,” said the 27-year-old.

“I think three teams (LionsXII, Kedah FA and Terengganu FA) still have a chance to go through. There is a danger of not qualifying, so we have to take the game seriously and try to do well there.

“It is always tough playing there because we have lost a few games there. But it’s a new game, so we have to try our best to follow coach’s tactics and hopefully get a result.”