Timely boost as Faris and Sahil return
The team started the 2015 campaign with four strikers, and two games into the Malaysian Super League (MSL) season, Fandi Ahmad is down to two.
Little wonder he is a relieved man, after the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced that Under-23 stars Sahil Suhaimi and Faris Ramli will be in the LionsXII squad who will travel to Ipoh today for tomorrow's clash with Perak.
Striker Sahil (right, No. 32) and attacking winger Faris (left, No. 17) were initially named in the U-23 squad to face the Syria U-23s in a friendly at Jalan Besar Stadium tomorrow, as the side continue to prepare for the start of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season and June's South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil.
But, TNP understands that following a discussion between LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad and U-23s coach Aide Iskandar, both players will turn out for the LionsXII, instead.
It is a timely boost for the MSL side, after strikers Khairul Nizam and Sufian Anuar both suffered injuries in the 2-0 defeat by Kelantan last week.
"Right now, we have three or four players out," Fandi said.
"Nizam and Sufian are out, as well as (defender) Zakir (Samsudin) and Chris (van Huizen), who has an illness.
"Faris and Sahil returning is a big boost. Against Kelantan, we lacked imagination in the final third.
"These two give us plenty of options up front. Faris, in particular, is important to us, because he has the ability to open up defences."
Both Sahil and Faris opened their accounts in the LionsXII's 5-3 victory over PDRM in their first MSL match of the season.
Faris scored the team's second from close range, while Sahil, notched his goal four minutes after coming on as a second-half-substitute.
The former Courts Young Lions striker curled home a delightful free-kick from just outside the box.
Sahil, 22, touted by many to be a star in the making, will likely start the Perak clash from the bench, again, with Fandi choosing to go with Faris and Gabriel Quak on the flanks, supporting target man Khairul Amri.
Said Fandi: "I am hoping for Sahil to spring a surprise. He has the quality to trouble any team.
"I have yet to decide who will start up front. We will have one more training session in Perak to assess my options."