Team Singapore

LionsXII must be wary of Terengganu terror Rangel

TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA

In the last two seasons, he has forged a reputation as arguably the most fearsome foreign striker prowling the Malaysian Super League (MSL).

Yet, Paulo Rangel (right) has scored only once in five appearances against the LionsXII.

The 30-year-old Brazilian - the MSL's top-scorer last term with 16 goals for former team Selangor - wants to change that statistic when his Terengganu side take to the Jalan Besar Stadium field tonight.

He already gave the Singapore side a taste of what they might expect tonight, when he bagged a hat-trick in the Turtles' 3-1 win over Fandi Ahmad's men in a pre-season friendly in January.

And he has already hit the ground running this season, with five goals in just four games.

"Do I think I can score tomorrow? Yes, because I believe I can score in every game I play in," he told The New Paper, before his team's training session at Jalan Besar yesterday.

"To me, it's not a surprise I've already scored five goals, because Terengganu are a good team with many good local players. And if you have quality players supporting each other, it makes things easier."

He insisted, however, that the Malaysian east coast outfit, who are fourth in the table, are not underestimating their opponents.

"Playing LionsXII at home is never easy," he said. "We have worked very hard as a team, and we must make sure we continue to do so tomorrow, if we hope to get a good result."

Terengganu coach Abdul Rahman backed Rangel, who has scored two goals apiece in the team's last two games, to get on the scoresheet again.

"I have confidence in Rangel, as well as Gustavo (Lopez)," said the 68-year-old former Malaysian national coach. "In these two players, we have the capability to hurt the LionsXII.

"Our imports have made the difference for us this season, they've made a big impact."

Abdul Rahman, who took over the reins at Terengganu last year, could well be the most successful coach against the LionsXII. He has a record of five wins and a draw from nine games against them, although seven of those matches were when he was in charge of PKNS.

But, he is playing the underdog card ahead of tonight's game.

"In all four of our games so far, we've scored, but we've also conceded every time. And in our only away game so far, we lost 3-1 to Sarawak.

"I don't really know what to expect from this LionsXII team, but one thing I know for sure is they will go all out for the win on home ground.

"We need to adapt to the artificial pitch quickly, and be organised when we don't have the ball. Our players will need to step up."

- SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ

MSL