By Kenneth Tan
The LionsXII need a win tonight to keep their Malaysia Cup qualifying hopes alive and even though the odds look stacked against them, defender Madhu Mohana believes his team has what it takes to beat Pahang FA
SINGAPORE, 29 August 2014: It was a disappointing result for the LionsXII when they took on Pahang FA previously, with the visitors stealing a 2-1 win at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Nigerian forward Dickson Nwakaeme was the star of the show as he scored the opening goal after just 13 minutes and terrorised the LionsXII’s defence throughout with his ability to hold up the ball.
The LionsXII’s backline will likely be missing Baihakki and Shakir Hamzah due to injuries. Despite this, defender Madhu Mohana believes that they need to shackle the 1.86 metre-tall Nwakaeme, and keep him on a tight leash in Kuantan tonight if they are to come away with a result.
“We all know he’s very strong technically and physically,” he told the official LionsXII website on Wednesday evening.
“With his strength and insane ball control, it’s very hard to get the ball off him. We need to double-team him, push him away from goal and make sure we avoid one-on-one situations with him.”
Trailing second-placed Felda United by five points with two more games to go, the bottom-placed LionsXII, who have just two points, faces an uphill task to qualify from Group A and achieve their aim of entering the 2014 Malaysia Cup knockout stages.
They will need two wins out of two and hope for results elsewhere to go their way, but Madhu is adamant that the boys keep their self- belief and repay the fans’ faith.
“Obviously it has been disappointing so far for this Malaysia Cup,” he said bluntly.
“The morale’s a bit down but I believe the confidence will come back once we get that first win. It’s all about desire (against Pahang) and we have to show 110 percent effort.
“We need to pay back our fans, especially those supporters who always come down for away games regardless of win, lose or draw.”
The 23-year-old has been a human machine of sorts, lately – playing a total of seven games in 12 days (including army games) before getting a timely rest against Johor Darul Ta’zim II on Tuesday.
He admitted it has been a strenuous period and credits the LionsXII backroom staff for his prompt recovery ahead of this game.
“I’m really happy that we have such dedicated medical staff here,” he said.
“I have to thank people like Fizah (physiotherapist Nurhafizah Sujad) and our other backroom colleagues for their treatment and massages. They don’t always get the credit, but they have done a lot for the players.”
This Malaysia Cup Group A game against Pahang FA will kick off at 8.45pm tonight at Stadium Darul Makmur, Kuantan. Fans can catch the game ‘LIVE’ via Starhub Channel 205 (Supersports Arena) from 8.30pm onwards.
Do check back on the LionsXII’s website, Twitter account (@FAS_LionsXII) and the Facebook page for the latest updates regarding the game. Go LionsXII Go!