LionsXII vow to step up for Fandi
LionsXII players vow to deliver against JDT II to ease the pressure off Fandi
JOHOR DARUL TA'ZIM II v LIONSXII
(Tonight, 8.30pm, StarHub TV Ch 202/205 & 76.25MHz)
We win as a team, we lose as a team, and it's unfair to single out our coach for blame.
Ahead of their Malaysia Cup Group A match against Johor Darul Ta'zim II in Pasir Gudang tonight, the LionsXII players have come out to back their coach Fandi Ahmad, who has been under fire for a series of poor results recently that has seen his team pick up just one point from two matches.
Winger Gabriel Quak said: "It's definitely unfair to blame him.
"The whole team have to take responsibility. No matter what, we are all behind him."
Right back Madhu Mohana added: "The coach can do only so much. It is the players who are out there on the pitch playing the match. If we don't score, we will never win.
"The fact is, we are a weaker team than last season, while the opponents in both the Malaysian Super League and the Premier League have become stronger.
"The Malaysian clubs are also spending more money buying quality foreigners.
"Look at JDT II. Even without Shahril Ishak, they still have three foreigners whom they can field.
"On our side, sometimes we can't even train with the starting 11 the day before the match, and this is not Fandi's fault. We are all trying our best.
"We are disappointed with the results, but we are not out, and we will try our best to come back from Johor with three points to kickstart our campaign."
JDT II lost 4-0 to Pahang and then 3-2 to Felda United but, even then, they boast more goals scored than LionsXII's only goal through Faris Ramli in the 2-1 defeat by Pahang on Tuesday.
However, Singapore skipper Shahril will miss the upcoming double header (the LionsXII host JDT II on Tuesday) through a hamstring injury.
They still have three imports in Spanish and Argentine defensive duo Juan Manuel Carrasco and Nicolas Delmonte, and Spanish striker Braulio Nobrega.
LionsXII centre back Baihakki Khaizan is ruled out against his former employers as part of an agreement, but Afiq Yunos is a capable replacement.
And the players are looking to make full use of Shahril's absence to collect six points and lift the gloom and doom.
"These games are winnable, and we know on our day, we can beat any team," said Quak.
"If we collect six points against JDT II, things will be back on track. If Pahang can also beat Felda, then we will get to second spot.
"We have to admit we lost a bit of our 'winning mantra' but, once we get going and win this next game, it will get better.
"These two games are absolutely crucial because they can be the turning points in our campaign."
PROBABLE LIONSXII LINE-UP: Izwan Mahbud, Madhu Mohana, Safuwan Baharudin, Afiq Yunos, Shakir Hamzah, Faris Ramli, Isa Halim, Raihan Rahman, Zulfahmi Arifin, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Sufian Anuar.
The coach can do only so much. It is the players who are out there on the pitch playing the match. On our side, sometimes we can’t even train with the starting 11 the day before the match, and this is not Fandi’s fault. We are all trying our best.
— Madhu Mohana
It’s definitely unfair to blame him (coach Fandi Ahmad). The whole team have to take responsibility. No matter what, we are all behind him.
— Gabriel Quak
What the FAS says
The New Paper’s Report On Wednesday
We refer to the commentary "Fandi Off Target" (TNP, Aug 20, 2014) and would like to present our views to the readers.
An article ("Aide to be SEA Games coach") in The New Paper published in early April had quoted national teams head coach Bernd Stange and Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar as saying that the latter would be leading the 2015 SEA Games team.
Hence, there should not be any query or doubt as to the identity of the coach for the 2015 SEA Games.
As widely reported in recent weeks, including a report in The New Paper ("SNOC: Bahrain win not enough"), the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) final list of athletes participating at the 2014 Asian Games had to be submitted to the Korean organisers on Aug 15.
Following the positive outcome of our appeal last week, FAS duly completed and submitted the list of players and officials, including the head coach, to SNOC.
FAS had earlier decided that Stange would lead the Asian Games squad and hence, he led the team to Bahrain where we defeated their Under-23 side two weeks ago.
Like other associations in the final phase of preparations for upcoming competitions, FAS has in place a schedule which includes the announcement of the squad.
To suggest, in any way, that the association did not manage this matter well would not be right.
We would also like to point out that Stange's involvement in these competitions is neither new nor surprising.
Upon his appointment as national teams head coach in May 2013, we had publicly announced that Stange would oversee the preparations for the 2013 and 2015 editions of the SEA Games as well as to play a key role in mentoring local coaches.
As for the LionsXII's participation in the Malaysian Super League, it has always been our aim to seek a judicious balance between development and competitiveness. Hence, our LionsXII squad are one of the youngest teams in the MSL this year.
Like our players and technical staff, we are disappointed that we did not manage to secure a top-three placing.
However, we are heartened and encouraged by the development of several young players, including Zulfahmi Arifin, Gabriel Quak, Shahfiq Ghani, Madhu Mohana and Faris Ramli, who not only recorded more playing time this season but have also progressed to becoming key players of the national team which will be participating in key tournaments such as the Suzuki Cup.
Like any other teams participating in key competitions, the LionsXII technical team submitted its mid-season report following the conclusion of the Malaysian Super League.
FAS is studying the report and will adopt the necessary actions to make improvements in the relevant areas.
We will continue to support and work closely with our technical and backroom staff, including those from the LionsXII, to fulfil our footballing objectives.
Going forward, we hope that the media and fans will continue to support local football and work with us to continuously raise our standards in all aspects.