The LIONSXII theme song

Quickfire second-half goals sink Selangor PKNS

Quickfire second-half goals sink Selangor PKNS

LionsXII 3-1 Selangor PKNS

(Hariss Harun 54′, Nazrul Nazari 58′, Khairul Nizam 89′) (Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh 90’+ 1)

SINGAPORE, 27 May 2013:  It was a night of revenge for the LionsXII as they saw off the challenge of visiting Selangor PKNS 3-1 in front of over 6,000 fans.

Quickfire goals from Hariss Harun and Nazrul Nazari in the early period of the second half eventually proved to be the difference between the two sides.

Despite lying seventh in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) table, PKNS came with the tag of ‘bogey team’ having already tasted success twice against V Sundramoorthy’s side this season.

Having the likes of the league’s second-highest scorer Patrick Ronaldinho Wleh and highly-rated playmaker Nazmi Faiz in their ranks, it was the visitors who had the better of the opening exchanges as they briefly threatened with a couple of attacks.

However, with a proud record of eight home wins in as many games so far, it was the LionsXII who soon settled down and dominated the rest of the half.

The first opening fell to Faris Ramli whose volley was deflected wide on 10 minutes after Gabriel Quak had bamboozled his marker on the left.

Peculiarly, it was Izwan Mahbud who had the next opportunity for a sighter on goal after Safuwan Baharudin was brought down outside the box. However, the LionsXII custodian could only fire his attempt into the wall.

The livewire runs of Faris down the right was a constant menace to the PKNS backline as he forced another two good openings.

Firstly, he set up Hafiz with a whizzing run past three blue shirts but the latter could only flash his shot wide off the post. Next, it was a superb deep cross which led to a Fazrul Nawaz’s header that was tipped wide by PKNS keeper Remezey Che Ros.

Fazrul turned provider next on 31 minutes when he teed up Gabriel from a long ball, but he was not able to keep his shot down just in front of goal.

The wastefulness in front of goal nearly cost them three minutes later when Patrick stole in after some uncertainty at the back from Izwan. Fortunately, Safuwan was on hand to clear the danger away.

The LionsXII had one final opportunity on the stroke of half time when captain Shahril Ishak was bundled over in the box by two PKNS defenders. However, his subsequent penalty claim was waved away by the referee.

Nonetheless, the home fans were not left disappointed for long as the league leaders found the breakthrough soon after the break – hitting two goals in four delightful minutes.

The first one came on 54 minutes when a superb cross from Gabriel forced PKNS to concede a corner.

Shahril’s resulting delivery proved to be a peach as Hariss met it with a bullet header which flew past Remezey.

The home fans were still fresh from the celebrations of that goal when the LionsXII struck again.

It started from a good knock-down from Fazrul, as Shahril strode through the PKNS defence before setting up substitute Nazrul, who fired a first-time shot that got a deflection and looped over the despairing reach of Remezey.

It was a lead which they did not give up till full time, with no less credit to be given to Izwan, as the custodian produced a superb save from Helmi Remeli’s header in between the goals.

The visitors were subsequently reduced to 10 men with 15 minutes to go after Helmi fouled Gabriel after the latter raced clear through on goal.

By now, the threat of Patrick and Nazmi have been effectively neutralised as the LionsXII went on the offensive with the numerical advantage.

Gabriel flashed agonizing wide again while Baihakki similarly fired his rebound from his own free-kick out of range, and they eventually found another one a minute from time.

Full back Faritz Hameed stole possession from a tiring PKNS midfield and duly strode past three defenders, before unselfishly setting up substitute Khairul Nizam for a one-on-one opportunity.

The forward, who had replaced Shahril minutes earlier, made no mistake with a superbly-placed shot into the bottom left corner.

PKNS did pull one back a minute into injury time through Patrick’s header, but there was no denying the LionsXII their moment of glory as they clinched their ninth successive home win to go four points clear at the top of the MSL table.

Sundram: We’re getting close to the title

It was a result which no doubt went the LionsXII’s way, but for coach Sundram – it was the way which his side recovered from a less-than-ideal first half.

“We were working hard in the first half,” he explained.

“It’s just all about making good decisions on and off the ball in the next 45 minutes. This is a home game, the result’s there for the taking – the boys understand that fact and came out with the hunger thereafter.

“We needed that breakthrough from Hariss and then when Nizam scored at the end, it was a real icing on the cake.”

With four games remaining till the end of the season, the Dazzler is confident that his side can clinch the MSL title.

“We’re getting close to the title,” he declared.

“The important game is definitely the next game against Johor (Darul Takzim). If we get something from the game, we will surely pull away.”

It was a consensus which was reached by his opposite counterpart Haji Abdul Rahman when asked about the LionsXII’s title bid.

“Last year, I was asked the same question!” he laughed.

“Back then, I said they were not quite ready as Kelantan and Terengganu were too strong. This year, however, the quality has diluted with many good players going to other teams especially Darul Takzim.

“Moreover, I see the discipline and the will to win in the LionsXII squad and they do have the edge now. With the other teams dropping points, I think they may not even need to win all their remaining games to win the title.”

On a side-note, he lamented an injury sustained by his foreign import Roman Chmelo and a poor start to the second half which made an ‘impossible’ task even harder.

“We knew it’s impossible to win here,” he said.

“What we tried to do was to delay the scenario for as long as possible – we stayed organized and disciplined at the back while trying to go for counter-attacks.

“Our foreign players were controlling the game, especially Roman who showed some nice touches in midfield. However, when he got injured, our midfield became lost and conceded early in the second half.

“I told them to hang on for at least 20 to 25 minutes and LionsXII will get frustrated by then, but that didn’t happen.”

The LionsXII will now take a four-week hiatus before hosting the top-of-the-table clash against Johor Darul Takzim on Saturday, 22nd June.

Do continue to support the boys in their pursuit for MSL glory!