Fandi fumes over penalty that checks LionsXII's winning run
Fandi fumes over two spot-kick incidents, one given, one not
ATM FA 1
(Abdulafees Salam 58 pen)
(Hafiz Abu Sujad 42)
A controversial penalty decision forced the LionsXII to share the spoils with second-from-bottom ATM FA in their Malaysian Super League (MSL) clash at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi, Seremban, last night.
In the 58th minute, referee Ahmad Zuhadi awarded a spot kick to ATM after their winger Jerry Palacios was tripped by LionsXII defender Madhu Mohana.
Television replays later showed the infringement took place outside the penalty box.
ATM didn't complain.
Up stepped striker Abdulafees Salam to send Izwan Mahbud, the Singapore international goalkeeper who had received an offer to train at a J-League club just hours earlier, the wrong way.
The goal cancelled out Hafiz Abu Sujad's strike for the visitors, scored three minutes before the break.
The result snapped the Singapore side's three-match winning streak in the MSL, and comes just three days after they had beaten the same opponents 3-1 at their Jalan Besar Stadium home.
LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad was fuming after the match, as he now turns his attention another tough away match, against fifth-placed PDRM FA in Shah Alam, on Friday.
"We are very disappointed with the referee," he said.
"It was a dubious penalty, and he didn't whistle when we had a clear penalty of our own (when Hafiz was kicked in the back in the 34th minute).
"Now, we just have to try forget this and (learn to) play to the whistle, because the referee is always right... But that was wrong. Bloody wrong.
"It (the penalty call) gave them the point."
ATM, welcoming Nigerian duo Obinna Nwaneri and Abdulafees back into the starting line-up after they served suspensions, were fired up for revenge from the start.
Striker Abdulafees found himself on the end of two great opportunities in the opening half an hour, but was wasteful.
On seven minutes, he sent a header wide from barely two metres out. Then, in the 24th minute, he rode a tackle from Nazrul Nazari and brilliantly cut inside Madhu, but saw his low shot cleared to safety by Izwan's right boot.
The home side paid for those misses in the 42nd minute, when LionsXII winger Hafiz found space on the edge of the box and drilled a shot home in off the upright.
The visitors rued an awful miss of their own five minutes after the break when Khairul Nizam picked Ridzuwan Effendy's pocket on the halfway line and raced towards goal, only to shoot the ball straight at goalkeeper Syed Adney.
Less than 10 minutes later, ATM were awarded their contentious penalty which Abdulafees calmly tucked away.
The match could have ended in disaster for the LionsXII, had Izwan not been alert to pull off a great save off Venice Elphi's powerful close-range header in injury time.
- ATM FA: Syed Adney, Badrul Hisham, Obinna Nwaneri (Ridzuwan Effendy 46), Norfazly Alias, Azmeer Yusof, Shukor Jusoh, Affize Faisal Mamat (Mario Karlovic 46), Jerry Palacios, Hairuddin Omar, Venice Elphi, Abdulafees Salam
- LIONSXII: Izwan Mahbud 7, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari 6, Madhu Mohana 6.5, Zulfahmi Arifin 6, Shakir Hamzah 6, Izzdin Shafiq 6.5, Firdaus Kasman 6.5, Gabriel Quak 6.5 (Faris Ramli 73), Safuwan Baharudin 7, Hafiz Abu Sujad 6.5 (Isa Halim 86), Khairul Nizam 6.5 (Khairul Amri 62, 6)
- TNP Man of the Match: Safuwan Baharudin
"Now, we just have to try forget this and (learn to) play to the whistle, because the referee is always right... But that was wrong. Bloody wrong."
- Fandi Ahmad