LionsXII face Terengganu test in FA Cup semi-finals
Fandi's men get the job done and are two games from final
QUARTER-FINAL, 2ND LEG
JDT II 0
(Khairul Nizam 19, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari 65)
- LionsXII win 4-0 on aggregate
They've bulldozed their way past minnows, but now a much sterner test awaits the LionsXII in the semi-finals of the Malaysian FA Cup when they take on fellow Malaysian Super League (MSL) outfit Terengganu FA.
Fandi Ahmad's men booked their spot in the final four of the competition after a fuss-free 2-0 win over second-tier Malaysian Premier League side Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) II at the Pasir Gudang Stadium last night.
The LionsXII had beaten JDT II by the same scoreline in the first leg at their Jalan Besar Stadium home two weeks earlier, after seeing off the bottom side from the second tier, KL Putrajaya Spa, and third-tier PB Melayu Kedah with 4-0 wins in earlier rounds.
Terengganu, who they will play in a two-legged semi-final on May 9 and 16, will be no pushovers.
The Turtles, four-time Malaysia Cup winners, have also won the FA Cup twice, most recently in 2011.
They are fifth in the 12-team MSL after eight games, with 14 points, twice the tally of the LionsXII, who are ninth.
Still, Fandi is bullish.
"It will definitely be a difficult game against Terengganu, because they are a strong team with superb foreign players," said the LionsXII coach.
"But we will take the fight to them.
"Hopefully, we can make it."
Terengganu is led by wily former Malaysia coach Abdul Rahman Ibrahim and boast foreign imports like reigning MSL top-scorer Paulo Rangel, from Brazil, giant Cameroonian centreback Vincent Bikana and Canadian forward Issey Nakajima-Farran, who once starred for Albirex Niigata in the S.League.
The two teams met in an MSL match on March 14 at Jalan Besar, and shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
Last night's encounter was all but over when strikers Khairul Amri and Khairul Nizam combined to put the LionsXII ahead after 19 minutes.
Amri whipped a free-kick towards goal and half-brother Nizam stole in with a diving header to expertly divert the ball past shaky JDT II goalkeeper, Afiff Azman.
The Singapore side were let off the hook in the 54th minute when JDT II midfielder Nicolas Delmonte's header bounced off the post, before Syafiq Shaharudin's rebound appeared to ricochet off the arm of Hafiz Abu Sujad on the goaline, and away to safety.
The win was sealed in the 65th minute, when winger-turned-rightback Nazrul Ahmad Nazari raced clear in a counter-attack and coolly slotted past Afiff.
Even without Singapore Under-23 captain Shakir Hamzah, who joined in a surprise move from the Courts Young Lions yesterday and made the trip to Johor but was not included in the matchday squad of 18, the LionsXII hung on to the clean sheet.
Said Fandi: "The boys did their job well today.
"They maintained their discipline and focus till the end of the game."
Should the LionsXII overcome Terengganu, either Kelantan or defending FA Cup champions Pahang await them in the final.
The final on May 23 will be played at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
- JDT II: Afiff Azman, Syafuan Riduwan (Faizol Hussein 46), Che Rashid Che Ismail, Fazly Mazlan, Izuan Jarudin, Akram Mahinan, Nicolas Delmonte, Leandro Velazquez, Shahril Ishak (Ramzi Haziq 88), Fandi Othman, Shafiq Shaharudin
- LIONSXII: Izwan Mahbud, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, Madhu Mohana, Zulfahmi Arifin, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Syafiq Zainal (Christopher van Huizen 54), Firdaus Kasman, Izzdin Shafiq, Faris Ramli (Sahil Suhaimi 81), Khairul Amri, Khairul Nizam (Isa Halim 67)