The LIONSXII theme song

Madhu keen for more game time

Madhu keen for more game time

By Kenneth Tan

Madhu keen for more game time

After completing a full 90-minute shift against Sime Darby last weekend, the 23-year-old is keen to feature again from the start

SINGAPORE, 11 April 2014: This has not been the best of seasons for Madhu Mohana so far.

Currently in his third year with the LionsXII, he can no longer be described as a rookie player. However due to the fierce competition for places in the side, it has been an uphill task trying to cement a first-team slot this season.

Most of his appearances so far were late cameos, bar a 45-minute shift away against Johor Darul Ta’zim. A first start of the season away against Sarawak FA did look like things looked bright for him, but coach Fandi Ahmad opted for the first-choice defensive partnership of Afiq Yunos and Safuwan Baharudin in the subsequent matches.

It may seem frustrating to be in Madhu’s shoes, but the man himself is taking this little setback in his stride.

“The backline has been pretty consistent so far,” he told the official LionsXII website just before training on Thursday evening.

“It’s only fair for them to start when they’re performing. The competition (for places) has been very healthy. For me, I have to wait for my chance to come in. I just hope that when I get to play, I can come in to do a good job and perform better.”

That upbeat attitude seemed to have impressed coach Fandi as he was selected to pair up with  Safuwan at the heart of defence in last Saturday’s away game against Sime Darby FC.

In his only second start of the season, the 23-year-old put in a competent shift as the reigning Malaysian Super League (MSL) champions cruised to a 2-0 victory. It was a performance which left him satisfied although that was not coach Fandi’s initial plan.

“I was supposed to start at right back because coach wanted to try Faritz (Hameed) on the right wing,” he revealed.

“But I think Afiq (Yunos) had a last-minute injury with his toe, so I went to centre back. I’m happy that I did quite okay and managed to cope well, but of course there’s always room for improvement.”

Having featured in both defensive positions, Madhu was unable to pinpoint which is his best role although he admitted centre-back is the harder of the two.

“I’m pretty comfortable with both positions really,” he shared.

“I played at centre back more often back in my days with (Courts) Young Lions and Woodlands (Wellington), and then I played at right back more with LionsXII. Of course at centre back, it’s more pressurizing as you’re the last line of defence.”

No matter which position he plays, the versatile youngster is looking forward to contribute more to the LionsXII’s title defence – something which he himself admits is a very difficult task, given the level of improvement shown by the fellow title rivals.

“Of course we want to retain the title,” he said.

“This is my third year with the club and I know people will say our form is not good as last season, but the fact is that the league is improving with every team having four foreigners. Also unlike in our first year, now Malaysian teams know our strengths and how to play with us.”

After some disappointing results, Madhu is glad to see the side embark on a good four-game unbeaten run and being just four points off leaders Pahang FA.

“We started the season quite slowly,” he admitted.

“But now the team is doing better and we didn’t lose our last four games. It’s a bit different training under coach Fandi but I think the fans can see that we’re getting better in terms of our tactics and results are starting to come.

We’re training and pushing very hard in training and every player wants to get a chance to play.”

The LionsXII will take on Sime Darby again on Saturday night and of course, Madhu is itching for the chance to get a second successive start. His cause is not helped by Afiq’s timely return from injury but if given the nod, the Singapore international will hope his fitness will be able to match up those of the Malaysians.

“Sime Darby is a rather young team,” he shared.

“They do a lot of running and I was chasing very hard during last week’s game. I was feeling quite tired towards the end of the second half.

Although we managed to beat them then, we cannot take it for granted this time round as I’m sure they’re coming here with revenge on their minds.”

This game against Sime Darby FC will kick-off at 7.45pm tomorrow at Jalan Besar Stadium.  Tickets for the game remain available for this game and you fans can get 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 keep pace at the top of the MSL table!