Fandi's LionsXII sign talented striker Sahil Suhaimi
The LionsXII scored just 26 goals in 22 Malaysian Super League (MSL) games last season as they slumped to a disappointing eighth-place finish just 12 months after winning the title.
No wonder Fandi Ahmad has sought to address the lack of firepower in his team.
His charges will return to MSL action next month and they look more dangerous up front after signing Courts Young Lions striker Sahil Suhaimi and retaining goalscoring winger Faris Ramli.
The two 22-year-olds tasted plenty of action in Singapore's ill-fated AFF Suzuki Cup title defence last month.
Sahil scored 10 goals for the Courts Young Lions in this year's Great Eastern Yeo's S.League to finish as the joint-top local goalscorer alongside Home United's Fazrul Nawaz, who has joined Malaysian Premier League side Sabah.
Already regarded as a star in the making, Sahil has modestly set himself a target of five goals next year.
"I'm very happy to finally sign for the LionsXII and I feel like I'm taking (my career) to the next level," Sahil told The New Paper yesterday.
"I'm going to work hard and push myself and see what happens when the new season starts.
"It's a new year, a new team, and God willing, everything will go smoothly."
Faris, who had a breakthrough season this year, will be looking to replicate the form that saw him fire in eight goals for the LionsXII.
Despite being courted by several Malaysian clubs, the fleet-footed winger has decided to stay put.
He said: "I'm honoured and excited to represent the LionsXII again next year.
"I hope this time round, I can contribute more and give the team another dimension going forward.
"As an individual, I also want to deliver more than what I did this year."
Fandi is looking forward to having more attacking options to supplement main striker Khairul Amri, although he will have to juggle with the schedules of Sahil and Faris, who are in line to represent the country in the Under-23 football competition at next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, which Singapore will host in June.
Said Fandi: "It's nice to have Sahil and Faris in the squad, it gives us more firepower.
"We also understand that the SEA Games is around the corner, and we have an agreement to release the eligible players for SEA Games preparations, which can include training tours and international friendlies."
As of Friday's registration deadline, Fandi had signed 27 players with an average age of just 22.9 years.
This includes defenders Faris Azienuddin and Zakir Samsudin, and midfielder Samuel Benjamin - all 20-year-olds - and 17-year-old goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad.
The LionsXII will want to do much better next year, but it will not be easy as the Malaysian teams will be able to field four imports, while the Singaporean side have none.
National midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman's horrific leg break at the Suzuki Cup has also thrown a spanner in the works, while Fandi's team also look short of defensive cover.
Said Fandi: "Shahdan is a big loss, but every player in the team must make full use of whatever opportunity he gets to fight for the chance to play and show what he can do."
"I’m going to work hard and push myself and see what happens when the new season starts."
— Sahil Suhaimi, who joins the LionsXII from the Courts Young Lions
2015 LIONSXII SQUAD
- Goalkeepers: Izwan Mahbud, Khairulhin Khaild, Zharfan Rohaizad
- Defenders: Faritz Abdul Hameed, Madhu Mohana, Safuwan Baharudin, Afiq Yunos, Wahyudi Wahid, Faris Azienuddin, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Zakir Samsudin
- Midfielders: Isa Halim, Izzdin Shafiq, Raihan Rahman, Firdaus Kasman, Zulfahmi Arifin, Shahdan Sulaiman, Faris Ramli, Gabriel Quak, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari, Christopher van Huizen, Samuel Benjamin
- Forwards: Khairul Amri, Khairul Nizam, Sufian Anuar, Syafiq Zainal, Sahil Suhaimi