Izwan warns against complacency against JDT II
Izwan demands focus as Fandi's men want to make up for Selangor rout
Malaysian FA Cup quarter-final, 2nd leg
JOHOR DARUL TA'ZIM II v LIONSXII
(Tonight, 8.45pm, Pasir Gudang Stadium)
- LionsXII lead 2-0 from first leg
Fresh off a 4-0 spanking by Selangor in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) last Saturday, the LionsXII are hurting.
Tonight, they have the chance to bounce back, when they take on second-tier Johor Darul Ta'zim II (JDT II) at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in the second leg of their Malaysian FA Cup quarter-final.
Carrying a 2-0 lead from the first leg at the Jalan Besar Stadium two weeks ago, Fandi Ahmad's men are 90 minutes away from a place in the semi-finals, where they will play Terengganu.
Many in the Singapore team will be hungry to banish thoughts of the hiding the LionsXII received last week and will assume JDT II are vulnerable, but goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud is calling for cool heads.
The 24-year-old (right) is wary that his teammates could pay the price if they allowed their emotions to get the better of them.
"Of course, we want to bounce back, but we also have to be cautious," said the Singapore international.
"Pasir Gudang is not an easy place to go to and, if they take the lead in the game, it will be very difficult for us.
"Be it JDT or JDT II, playing the LionsXII is always a big game over there, and there will be huge home support trying to give the team that extra motivation and boost."
Izwan pointed to the LionsXII's shock 2-1 loss to JDT II in the group stages of last season's Malaysia Cup competition as a lesson that is still fresh in the Singapore team's minds.
Their task this time has been helped by the suspension of JDT II's Singapore international defender Baihakki Khaizan, who was sent off in the first leg.
But they will still have to keep a close watch on forward Shahril Ishak, the Lions skipper playing for the Johor side, as well as Argentinian midfielder Leandro Velasquez, who looked dangerous on the ball in the first leg.
Izwan knows the LionsXII's backline will be under the microscope after their horror show against Selangor in Shah Alam.
Three of the Red Giants' goals were down to individual defensive errors, leaving Izwan horribly exposed.
The shot-stopper has been in fine form in the MSL this season, despite the LionsXII's poor record after eight matches.
He was picked as The New Paper's Man of the Match twice after draws with Terengganu and JDT, and he's backing his teammates to come good.
"Of course, after the Selangor game, we felt really down because we knew individual mistakes were the reason we lost," he said.
"But mistakes are there for us to learn from.
"The players already know we cannot be complacent and take the two-goal lead for granted.
"As long as we work together, we'll be okay."
The FA Cup semi-finals will be contested over two legs and will be played over the weekend of May 9 and 16, with the final at Malaysia's National Stadium at Bukit Jalil on May 23.