LionsXII eager for another win as Fandi eyes top-four spot
Home wins on Fandi's mind, for a Malaysia Cup advantage
LIONSXII v KL FELDA UNITED
(Jalan Besar Stadium, 7.45pm kick-off)
Fandi Ahmad's LionsXII sit in sixth spot in the 12-team Malaysian Super League (MSL), 13 points off the pace of table-toppers Pahang, and 13 ahead of the relegation zone, comfortably nestled in that cruise control zone.
But there will be no sign of a team intent to simply glide across the finish-line when the Singapore side host to KL Felda United at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.
In fact, Fandi's instruction for his charges is unequivocal - turn on the afterburners because there is still a lot at stake.
"I don't usually put pressure on them in training, I just want to make sure they know their roles and responsibilities, what they have to do in each situation," he told The New Paper yesterday, on the sidelines of the team's final workout before the match.
"But (tonight) we will turn our switches on. We have no choice, we need to get three points to make sure we finish in the top four of the league - and we only have four home games left to play."
Finishing in the top four will ensure the LionsXII are seeded in the post-season Malaysia Cup draw, and avoid the other top three MSL sides in the group stage.
A win tonight will also see the Singapore side move ahead of Felda, who currently occupy fourth spot in the standings, two points ahead of Fandi's outfit.
The LionsXII have a packed seven-match schedule this month, playing once every three days, including trips to Terengganu, Johor and Sarawak.
They will entertain Pahang, Selangor and Sime Darby at home, after tonight's clash.
"It is very crucial that we win the remaining four home games and they boys need to focus and deliver, starting (today)," said the former Singapore captain.
"We know the boys are capable of good football, and I think it will be a matter of us taking our chances in the game."
Fandi is buoyed by the return to form of Shahdan Sulaiman.
The Singapore international has already donned the LionsXII shirt after recovering from a horrific ankle injury suffered during last year's AFF Suzuki Cup, but yesterday at the hour-long session at Jalan Besar, Shahdan's right boot looked like its old self again, sending pin-point crosses into the box from all across the pitch.
"Shahdan will be important for us, and Khairul Amri, too. We need to be clinical in crossing and finishing, and I think we're lucky that we have a lot of players who can score," said Fandi.
Four players got their names on the scoresheet in the last two games that both ended in wins for the LionsXII, and all four of them - Amri, Safuwan Baharudin, Faris Ramli and Hafiz Sujad - are in line to start tonight.
"We know what we have to do, we have to dominate the midfield, create chances, but at the same time be tight in defence," said Fandi.
- LionsXII probable line-up: Izwan Mahbud, Nazrul Nazari, Madhu Mohana, Zulfahmi Arifin, Shakir Hamzah, Izzdin Shafiq, Safuwan Baharudin, Faris Ramli, Shahdan Sulaiman, Hafiz Sujad, Khairul Amri
LAST NIGHT'S RESULTS
- ATM 1 Terengganu 5
- Kelantan 1 Perak 0
- Sarawak 0 Johor DT 2
- Selangor 1 PDRM 1
- Sime Darby 2 Pahang 4