AFTER a week of bad headlines, there is finally some good news for LionsXII.
The Malaysia Cup fixtures conundrum has been resolved with the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) announcing that LionsXII will take on Pahang FA next Tuesday in the first leg of the quarter-finals.
LionsXII coach V Sundramoorthy told The New Paper: “Yes it is a relief that we know which date we are playing on.
“It is important for our preparations and this date gives us more time to prepare, and more time for the injured players to recover.
“Hariss Harun and Yasir Hanapi will also be available for selection.”
Initially, when the fixtures were first released before the tournament kicked off late last month, the quarter-finals were originally slated for Sept 28 and Oct 5.
Two alternative dates were set – Friday and Sept 26 – due to the Sultan of Selangor’s Cup that will take place on Sept 29.
So it comes as a pleasant surprise for LionsXII that FAM has now opted for Sept 25 to play the first leg.
This means vice-captain Hariss and winger Yasir (above) – both full-time national serviceman with the Singapore Police Force – who are required to be on duty during the Singapore Grand Prix from Friday to Sunday, should now be able to feature against Pahang.
Injury victims, midfielder Safirul Sulaiman and striker Sufian Anuar, should also be able to recover in time, although the hamstrung right-back Juma’at Jantan is still doubtful.
The revised fixtures also see Johor FC take on Selangor next Tuesday in Pasir Gudang, while ATM FA play defending champions Negeri Sembilan in Selayang on Sept 28, and Felda United host league champions Kelantan in Malacca on Sept 29.
Yet, the FAM still has not settled on a fixed date for the return legs, merely indicating that they would be played either on Oct 2 or Oct 5.
It is understood that FAM wants all four return legs to be played on the same day and the fixture will be confirmed only after Kelantan’s fate in the AFC Cup is decided next Tuesday.
The second leg of the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals will be played on Oct 2 if Kelantan don’t progress to the AFC Cup semi-final, and Oct 5 if the Red Warriors qualify.
The original dates for the semi-finals are Oct 8 and 12, with either ATM FA or defending champions Negeri Sembilan the opponents should the LionsXII overcome Pahang.
The 2012 Malaysia Cup final will be held at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Oct 20.
Saturday, June 22
Jalan Besar Stadium