By Nigel Chin
Head coach Fandi Ahmad insists his side have not thrown in the towel following the 2-2 draw against Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) II which left them with only two points from four games in Group A of the Malaysia Cup.
To stand a chance of qualifying, the Singapore side must win their remaining two games against Pahang FA and Felda United while hoping that JDT II draw against Felda and lose against Pahang.
Fandi felt that his side still stands a slim chance, after witnessing a much improved performance last evening.
“Mathematically we are still in with a chance; we haven’t given up hope yet,” the Singapore footballing legend said.
“As our statistics show, we had 17 shots, six on target. In the end I thought we deserved to win. We put in the effort, you can see the stat – we had 64% of possession. We dominated the game, but found it very hard to score goals.
“Johor is a good side, (they are) very fast. They were very determined to get a point here and they did just that. Their counter-attacks were very fast. We got caught napping there.
“But I must say today, the boys gave their heart and soul. They gave 200% commitment tonight. The intensity, the fire was there and we haven’t seen that for quite some time. At the end we kept pushing. For me, that’s great for the team and the fans, but the result is not the best.”
The coach also singled out striker Khairul Nizam for praise. Nizam played in his first game since going under the knife after suffering a knee injury, and has not had a competitive game under his belt since April this year. However, he impressed in the 45 minutes of action, in which he was a constant threat to the JDT II defence.
“I’m happy for Nizam,” affirmed Fandi. “He did a good job working with the physiotherapists Sasha (fitness coach Aleksandar Bozenko) and Fizah (Nur Hafizah Sujad). He wanted to try and help the team. He gave his all in the 45 minutes and couldn’t carry on after that, but he created some good chances, made some good runs, kept the ball, and linked up the play but after that he couldn’t take it.
“We must see his condition after the game. Sometimes his knee will swell up. Hopefully everything will be okay and he can get another run-out against Pahang.”
The LionsXII will next face Pahang FA away on Friday, 29 August at the Darul Makmur Stadium, Kuantan. Kick-off is at 8:45pm.