Written By: Nigel Chin
LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad has declared his game-plan for Saturday’s Malaysia Cup quarter-final second leg match against Pahang FA: to “fight and fight”.
The LionsXII currently trail 4-1 following their first-leg defeat on Tuesday, and were dealt with a double whammy on the same night when the Football Association of Malaysia announced that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under which LionsXII and Harimau Muda participate in the Malaysia Super League and S.League respectively will not be extended when it expires at the end of the year.
However, the mood in the LionsXII camp is nowhere near despondent, with players focused on the task at hand – to overturn the three-goal deficit and extend their stay in Malaysia, even if it is just for a little while more.
“Nothing different for us,” Fandi simply said regarding his team’s situation.
“It’s just about having a positive mindset and going there to fight. Tactics can only bring you so far, beyond that it’s only about the fire and desire and willingness to run themselves to the ground.
“These boys must fight till the end. It’s all about the mind and the heart. They must fight and fight.”
Goals will be imperative in this fixture, but Fandi will not be helped by injuries to strikers Khairul Amri and Sufian Anuar.
That leaves only Sahil Suhaimi and Khairul Nizam as the LionsXII’s remaining forwards, although Safuwan Baharudin might feature up front too.
But Fandi still believes his side are capable of getting the win they need to progress into the next round.
“I’m very confident. We are thinking of winning this game even though we are three goals down,” he added.
“Our main target is to score goals in the game. I believe that the one goal Safuwan scored is crucial. It’s our getaway goal for us. If it was 4-0 we might say that we can pack up and go, but there’s a glimpse of hope for us, and we are going to fight. “
For the LionsXII defence, Madhu Mohana is keen for the team to learn from their mistakes as they look to do their part and keep Pahang at bay while the LionsXII go in search of a three-goal victory.
“They don’t like to play on this ground. If we score an early goal they can be in trouble, especially with the fans’ support behind us at the Jalan Besar Stadium,” he said.
“We lost the game through mistakes and these mistakes really cost us the game. We have to learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Mahdu has also called on the fans to get behind the team, as they attempt to navigate through the hardest mission they will face this season.
“It’s going to be really tough but I’m sure all the guys are determined and will try our best this Saturday,” Madhu added.
“Saturday is gonna be a real test for us players. We can not afford to concede any goals at Jalan Besar. We hope to see the fans behind us.”