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10-MAN LIONSXII CLAIMS MSL MAIDEN WIN

LIONSXII celebrating as a team after extending their lead to 2-0 against Kuala Lumpur, which caused fans to roar in jubilation. (Photo:SSC)

With only one point from their last two fixtures, the LIONSXII finally secured their first win of the 2012 Malaysian Super League season by beating Kuala Lumpur (KL) 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night, despite having Safuwan Baharudin red-carded.
 
 
Unable To Break The Deadlock

With the LIONSXII’s players labelling this encounter as a must-win match, the Lions impressed more than 7,000 fans in the stadium by dominating possession and pounding the visitors’ goal right from the start.

LIONSXII got their first chance when Isa Halim slid a ball through to captain, Shahril Ishak who ran unmarked towards the goal. However, the makeshift striker, Shahril fired his shot agonizingly wide of the left post.
 
After that attempt on goal, it was all about LIONSXII controlling the game and putting immense pressure on KL. 

The LIONSXII would then rue several opportunities in the next half hour, when their Shahdan Sulaiman directed set-pieces failed to find the back of the net with the LIONSXII’s players missing free headers.
 

LIONSXII’s defender, Safuwan Baharudin, rueing another miss after his unchallenged header flash past the goal. (Photo:SSC)
 
 
Finally, A Goal and Almost Two
 
However, it was only a matter of time before the LIONSXII’s waves of attack took its toll on KL. In the 40th minute, Shahril dispatched a ball through to the sprinting Irwan Shah, who was primed to score, but fumbled his attempt. 
 
Irwan Shah (third from left) showing delight and relief as Alman Syazwan (in blue) clears the ball into his own net to give LIONSXII a 1-0 lead. (Photo:SSC)

Fortunately for Irwan and the LIONSXII, onrushing KL defender, Alman Syazwan helplessly put the ball through his own net, giving the Lions a 1-0 advantage.


LIONSXII nearly doubled their lead before the interval when unmarked Yasir Hanapi unleashed a cracker which curled round the keeper, but it ricochet off the post and LIONSXII had to settle for a one goal cushion before the break.


Predatory Instincts for More

After the break, the Lions immediately went in pursuit of another goal, but could not seem to get their ‘head’ in the game as they were unable to convert the golden ‘header’ chances to goals once again.


About ten minutes into the second half, Irwan turned provider when he delivered a delightful ball into the opponents’ box. However, KL’s goalkeeper fumbled the ball straight into the path of Shahdan Sulaiman, who pounced on the custodian’s error to volley home the second goal for LIONSXII.


 
Shahdan Sulaiman (in white) celebrating after scoring his first goal for LIONSXII after missing several chances yesterday night. (Photo:SSC)
 

 

Unfortunate Error

With two goals and 35 minutes remaining, the jubilant fans were expecting more goals from the hosts. However, on the 67
th minute, their hopes of a third goal were shattered, when Safuwan brought down KL’s Fazuan Abdullah to concede a penalty.


Apart from the penalty, the Lions were further wounded, when the defender was sent-off because of a second yellow card, which results in a three-match ban.


Fazuan calmly converted the spot-kick despite jeers from the Singapore fans to notch KL’s first goal of the season and also restore confidence.


Holding On for a Victory


KL then pressed forward in search of an equalizer but superb aerial challenges and tackles by both Baihakki Khaizan and makeshift defender Harris Harun stopped KL from turning the tide against the 10-man Lions till the final whistle.


In the end, LIONSXII were full of smiles after the game as their close encounter win was a definite morale booster for the team and the fans.
 
 
The young and old cheering for the LIONSXII for securing their first win in the Malaysian Super League 2012. (Photo:SSC)


Nonetheless, they will have a few injury woes towards the next game as left-back, Shakir Hamzah and striker, Khairul Nizam were substituted out due to a hip and ankle twist respectively.


LIONSXII needs Composure


In the post- match press conference, KL’s coach Razip Ismail said, “I am not totally impressed by LIONSXII performance as their game is predictable. I believe that it is our own mistakes which cost us the game.”


As for LIONSXII’s coach V.Sundramoorthy, he admitted that his boys must start to grow up and be composed during tense situations to finish the game off early.
 

LIONSXII’s coach V.Sundramoorthy admits that they were lucky and must learn how to take their chances, or else they will be punished in the league. (Photo:SSC)


The FAS striker-specialist coach also said, “We might need to convert someone into a striker for the next game or stick with Shahril upfront. Anyway, we will take it game by game and fix a battle plan to claim maximum points.”


The LionsXII’s next match will be against Sabah in Likas Stadium, Kota Kinabalu this Saturday, on 21 January 2012.