Team Singapore

Sathia claims underdog tag

You must be kidding.

That was The New Paper's reaction when ATM FA coach B Sathianathan labelled the LionsXII "favourites" for their Malaysian Super League (MSL) clash tonight.

This despite the fact that his team are second in the 12-team league, while Fandi Ahmad's charges are ninth.

When you take into account the fact the LionsXII have not won in two previous trips to Selayang, that claim looks even more dubious.

Former Malaysia coach Sathia said yesterday: "For me, they are the MSL champions, they are favourites in this game.

SEASONED LIONS

"I know you call your Under-23 players Young Lions, but I don't think that is a proper name for them because they are so experienced.

"Most of the LionsXII players were in the team that beat Malaysia at the SEA Games (last month)."

Sathia chuckled when TNP suggested he was simply playing mind games and trying to put pressure on his opponents.

"Look, I'm no Jose Mourinho," he said.

"I'm just stating facts.

"Most of your national team are made up of LionsXII players.

"My team only have one national player (defender Amiridzwan Taj Tajuddin).

"Plus, Singapore have a higher world ranking than Malaysia, so they're better than my team."

Led by former coach V Sundramoorthy, the Singapore side were knocked out of the 2012 Malaysia Cup after a penalty shoot-out in their semi-final at Selayang.

Last season, they were ousted at the quarter-final stage (4-2 on aggregate) after losing the second leg 4-1 at the same venue.

While the LionsXII did beat ATM away in an MSL clash last year, that match was played in Paroi, Negeri Sembilan.

DEPLETED

But Sathia pointed to the list of his injured players as yet another reason why his side would be underdogs.

Defenders K Reuben (knee) and Spase Dilevski (hip), as well as midfielder Affize Faisal Mamat (suspension), are out for sure, while livewire winger Christie Jayaseelan (hip) and chief striker Marlon James (calf) are doubtful.

"We are talking about key players here," moaned Sathia.

"We're talking about Reuben, my team's ironman, Spase, a foreign defender.

"People like Christie, who always gives us an option on the flank, and Marlon, of course.

"This is why the LionsXII are favourites."

- SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ

"Look, I'm no Jose Mourinho. I'm just stating facts.

Most of your national team are made up of LionsXII players.

My team only have one national player."

- ATM coach 
B Sathianathan (above)