Fandi wants LionsXII to finish on a high
Fandi wants to finish league on a high and build momentum for the Malaysia Cup
LIONSXII v SIME DARBY
(Tonight, 8.30pm, StarHub TV Ch 112/205 & 76.25MHz)
For the LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad, there is no such thing as a dead rubber.
Even if his team cannot finish in the top four of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) and earn seeded status for the Malaysia Cup, Fandi insists they will go all out to beat relegated Sime Darby at Jalan Besar tonight.
The 53-year-old said yesterday: "Like in every game we play here, we want to perform for our fans and we want to score goals. We want to win and finish higher than last season."
The LionsXII finished eighth last season and, while they set an ambitious target to finish in the top three this term, they find themselves in seventh position mostly due to a dismal away record of just one win, which negated their unbeaten home form.
"We succeeded in winning the Malaysian FA Cup and we managed to beat some of the top teams, but failed to make the top four," said Fandi.
"After this match and the international week, we have to focus on doing well in the Malaysia Cup.
"This means we cannot underestimate Sime Darby.
"We have to win and build some momentum for the Malaysia Cup.
"I want to see the hunger in the players because our season is not over yet."
Fandi will take the opportunity to field some of his second-stringers, like reserve goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid and see if they can step up.
It will be the same strategy for Sime Darby, who looked almost unrecognisable when they trained with just one import and a clutch of Under-21 players among their 18-man squad at Jalan Besar yesterday.
According to their coach Ismail Zakaria, this is all part of his plan, and perhaps for the better of his team who have been relegated from the MSL after collecting just 10 points from 21 games.
He told The New Paper: "Our imports have not helped us at all this season, and we have to think about next season.
"We also have a Malaysia Cup play-off match against Johor Darul Ta'zim II next Tuesday to think about.
"But we want to win, like we did here last season.
"Even though we are relegated, we can go down with our heads high if we are the only team to beat the LionsXII here this season."
- Probable LionsXII line-up: Khairulhin Khalid, Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman, Izzdin Shafiq, Shakir Hamzah, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, Gabriel Quak, Firdaus Kasman, Safuwan Baharudin, Faris Ramli, Shahdan Sulaiman, Khairul Nizam.