Written by: Shawn Lim
The LionsXII suffered their first defeat of their 2015 Malaysia Cup Group A campaign after going down 2-0 to Kedah FA at Darul Aman Stadium on Friday night.
The hosts indicated their intention right from the start, as they went on the offensive.
Baddrol Bakhtiar, Chidi Edeh and Sandro Da Silva all came close to breaking the deadlock for Kedah in the first opening 15 minutes of the game, but found the LionsXII defence too tough to break down.
The visitors gradually got more of a foothold of the game and their first chance came in the 34th minute when Safuwan Baharudin sent Khairul Amri through on goal.
However, Amri’s shot at goal was deflected off Baddrol and forced the Kedah custodian Firdaus Muhamad to push the ball to safety.
From the resulting corner, Amri did just enough to bring the ball down for the lurking Madhu Mohana at the far post, but the defender was unable to get a clean strike away.
Safuwan subsequently tried his luck from inside the penalty box right before the break, but his ferocious shot was blocked by Shafizan Hashim.
Kedah finally found the breakthrough one minute after the restart when Edeh reacted the quickest to head the ball in after LionsXII custodian Izwan Mahbud’s had tipped away Da Silva’s free kick.
The Canaries continued to look dangerous and Izwan was forced to produce two good saves in quick succession. He first denied Syazwan Zainon at his near post, before stopping Edeh in a similar fashion.
There was nothing the LionsXII captain could have done for Kedah’s second in the 78th minute however.
Da Silva picked out an unmarked Edeh with a pass that split the LionsXII defence and the Nigerian made no mistake by slotting the ball into the back of the net to put the hosts further ahead.
Despite being two goals down, the LionsXII refused to let their heads drops as they tried to reduce the deficit.
Safuwan came close again in the 84th minute when he found himself free inside box, but his effort was too tame to trouble Firdaus.
There were shouts for a penalty from the LionsXII players five minutes later when Kedah captain Khairul Helmi appeared to have fouled Safuwan in the penalty box, but referee Amirul Izwan Yaacob waved play on instead.
There was a final chance for LionsXII to pull a goal back in the 92nd minute, but substitute Sahil Suhaimi sent his free-kick straight into the grateful arms of Firdaus.
LionsXII: Izwan Mahbud (GK) (C), Madhu Mohana, Hafiz Sujad, Faritz Hameed (Christopher Van Huizen 59’), Shakir Hamzah, Nazrul Nazari, Izzdin Shafiq (Shahdan Sulaiman 85’), Zulfahmi Ariffin, Faris Ramli (Sahil Suhaimi 56’ ), Safuwan Baharudin, Khairul Amri