ATM FA 1
(Amiridzwan Taj 4)
(Khairul Amri 48, Afiq Yunos 90+2)
In football, there is a fine line between ending up a zero or a hero.
Just ask LionsXII defender Afiq Yunos, who went through a gamut of emotions during his team's Malaysian Super League (MSL) match against ATM FA at the Selayang Stadium last night.
The 22-year-old could only watch as Amiridzwan Taj rose above him to head home a corner to give the home side the lead after only four minutes.
That set him off to go through a nervy game punctuated by niggly little errors.
But, after his teammate Khairul Amri gave the LionsXII a lifeline with his 48th-minute equaliser, Afiq stole the show right at the death.
Just before referee Suhaizi Shukri blew the final whistle, the lanky youngster raced ahead of ATM goalkeeper Syed Adney and diverted Zulfahmi Arifin's near-post cross into goal.
Afiq celebrated his goal with a "calm down" gesture, but he admitted later he was over the moon.
"I don't believe it, man," he said with a wide smile.
"When the ball fell to Zul, I knew he would deliver a good ball, so I just gambled and decided to attack the ball.
"After the ATM goal, where he (Amiridzwan) was near me, everything seemed to go wrong.
"I didn't feel myself today, I felt quite heavy. So did my teammates.
"But, to score my first MSL goal, and for it to be an injury-time winner away from home... I have no words."
After Amiridzwan drew first blood for ATM, the LionsXII had a woeful first half where their best chance was Safuwan Baharudin's audacious shot from inside his own half, which Adney tipped onto the bar and out.
LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad's half-time team-talk must have been the kick up the backside his charges needed, as they came out for the second-half playing with far more urgency.
Amri duly netted the equaliser just three minutes after the restart with a pin-point volley into the corner of the goal.
But the LionsXII almost shot themselves in the foot with two defensive calamities in three minutes.
First, Juan Arostegui rose highest in the box to divert a header towards goal in the 62nd minute, but Safuwan was on hand to clear off the line.
A minute later, the ball broke for ATM hitman Marlon James inside the box, but the big Vincentian uncharacteristically fired wide of goal.
ATM coach B Sathianathan was hardly impressed with the LionsXII's victory.
When asked if they deserved the three points, the former Malaysia coach snapped: "No. It should have been a draw or win for us.
"Their goalkeeper Izwan, I think must have gone for a mandi bunga (flower bath in Malay), he was so lucky.
"We had so many chances to wrap the game up, but didn't take them.
"And when it beat him, the ball was cleared off the line."
But Fandi, who saw his team rise up to fifth with the win, wasn't bothered.
NEVER SAY DIE
"Our never-say-die attitude paid off," he said. "People can say whatever they want. We had a lot of chances in our other games too but didn't win every time.
"I thought our youth was what won us the match - ATM were flat in the last 10 minutes.
"This win will give us more confidence to play more convincing, attacking football, and hopefully we can gain more consistency as well."
M'SIAN SUPER LEAGUE I don't believe it, man.When the ball fell to Zul, I knew he would deliver a good ball, so I just gambled and decided to attack the ball.
- LIonsXII defender Afiq Yunos, on scoring the winner M'SIAN SUPER LEAGUE REPORTING FROM SELAYANG firstname.lastname@example.org