Sahil, Nizam or Sufian can replace Amri, says Fandi
Injured Amri a big loss for LionsXII, but Fandi confident Sahil, Nizam and Sufian can step up
LIONSXII v JOHOR DARUL TA'ZIM II
(Tomorrow, 7.30pm, StarHub TV Ch 112/205 & 76.12 MHz)
Last week's international break may have brought some joy to the national team who survived scares to bag all six World Cup/Asian Cup qualifying points on offer against Afghanistan and Cambodia, but it has come at a big cost for Fandi Ahmad's LionsXII side.
They host Johor Darul Ta'zim II in Group A of the Malaysia Cup tomorrow, and will definitely have to do without the hamstrung Khairul Amri and suspended Nazrul Nazari.
With Safuwan Baharudin and Hafiz Abu Sujad also doubtful for tomorrow's match, Fandi may have some serious reshuffling to do to grab a win.
"Our biggest issue now is in the striker's position, we need Amri's presence there, but we do have players who can step up," said Fandi yesterday.
"I have said this many times before, and I'm saying it again: We cannot depend on one player, we must be a team, and now Sahil Suhaimi, Khairul Nizam and Sufian Anuar have to step up."
Struggling with flu-like symptoms, Safuwan asked to be taken off in Singapore's 2-1 win over Cambodia on Tuesday, but Fandi remained hopeful that the 24-year-old will be fit enough to add more bite in midfield and attack.
Usually deployed at left back, Hafiz is back in training with the LionsXII, but Fandi has already come up with options if Safuwan and Hafiz are not passed fit to play.
He has confidence in his charges, who have all shown a willingness to put in solid shifts even when deployed away from their usual positions.
"We've got (midfielder) Zulfahmi Arifin who can play in defence, and maybe we can move (central defender) Shakir Hamzah to left back, and it won't be a problem because we still have Firdaus Kasman and Shahdan Sulaiman for our midfield positions," he said, reiterating his concern on replacing forward Amri.
"We have to win (tomorrow), because if we don't, it will be very difficult for us in the last game, we don't want to put more pressure on ourselves then."
The LionsXII will face Terengganu away in their final group encounter on Oct 31.
"(To win), we need someone up front who can hold the ball, create chances, and score," Fandi said, revealing that he is considering various combinations between the three candidates - Sahil, Nizam and Sufian.
The 53-year-old drew some positives from Sahil's outing for the Lions on Tuesday, when he was deployed on the right side of an attacking trio behind frontman Amri.
"I'm happy that Sahil got a game against Cambodia and, although it wasn't in his best position, he did get some crosses and shots in, and he put in a lot of effort," said Fandi.
"He's our best solution to come in as a second striker, hopefully he will be able to do a job for us."
Fandi will at least find some joy in the attitude that Safuwan has taken despite his illness.
"I was hit by flu symptoms, and I didn't feel great near the end of the (Cambodia) game, but I did some recovery training (on Wednesday) and I'm feeling slightly better," said Safuwan.
"But even if I'm not 100 per cent, I will still play when the team need me."
- Terengganu v Kedah
- Johor DT v ATM
- Sarawak v Perak
- Felda v Kelantan
- Selangor v T-Team
- Pahang v PKNS
- Penang v PDRM