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LIONSXII PAID THE PRICE FOR SLOPPY DEFENDING AGAINST TERENGGANU

LIONSXII’s captain, Shahril Ishak (#17, in white) on his knees after the unfortunate loss to Terengganu FA. (Photo:SSC)

Terengganu put a stop to LionsXII’s three-game unbeaten run with a 1-0 win at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday in a Malaysian Super League (MSL) fixture.

There were two pre-match events before the kick-off, a lion dance to commemorate the Chinese Lunar New Year and the other, a minute of silence was observed to pay tribute to the passing of a former international player, Razali Alias.

 

In celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year, a lion dance performance was staged just before the kick-off. (Photo: Football Association of Singapore)


Missing Scoring Chances

LionsXII were lively from the start, pressuring Terengganu on many occassions. MSL debutant, Shaiful came close to taking the lead for the home side in the fifth minute, but his volley from inside the penalty box blazed over the crossbar.

In the 15th minute, the LionsXII scoffed another great opportunity when vice-captain Harris Harun, failed to tap home Shaiful’s free-kick from six yards out.



LIONSXII’s vice captain, Hariss Harun (second white jersey from right) miscued his shot just in front goal to miss a glorious opportunity to take the lead. (Photo:SSC)


The match was noticeably halted for more than ten minutes after a power trip caused a floodlight to fail.When play resumed, the home side stringed about fifteen passes to unlock the Terengganu’s defence. Despite that magnificent approach play, they missed the chance to score as Firdaus Kasman’s shot sailed over the bar after a great dummy by Shahril Ishak in the penalty box.


V.Sundramoorthy’s men were left to rue glaring misses into half-time, despite dominating possession and keeping Terengganu at bay in the first-half.

Terengganu’s Hunt For Goal

After a goalless first-half, the defending Malaysian FA Cup Champion, Terengganu came back stronger and fired on all cylinders, attempting to break the deadlock.



Francis Forkey Doe (in yellow) was terrific upfront and caused a headache to the LIONSXII’s backline in the second half. (Photo: Football Association of Singapore)
 
Terengganu’s deadly striker Francis Doe Forkey ,who played for Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and D.C. United, was a constant threat to the LionsXII with his shots and hold-up play.


LionsXII paying the price


With both teams pushing for a lead, V.Sundramoorthy decided to bring on Agu Casmir for Shaiful Esah to bolster the offense after an hour of play. However, when Agu was given a golden opportunity to score in an one-on-one situation in the 75thminute, he cannonballed his effort way above the bar.

The LionsXII failed to create any more chances and Terengganu punished them for their sloppy performance. Makeshift defender, Hariss cleared straight at Forkey Doe, who then capitalized on the defensive error by muscling himself into position to fire a rocket past LionsXII’s custodian, Izwan Mahbud in the 79th minute.
 

Terengganu’s star forward, Francis Forkey Doe celebrating with his team-mates after silencing the Jalan Besar Stadium by netting the winner on the 79th minute. (Photo: Football Association of Singapore) 

It proved to be the decisive blow and the knockout punch that left LIONSXII on their knees after the final whistle.

What Happened & What Next


Speaking at the post-match press conference, Terengganu coach Mat Zan Mat Aris said, “We created a few chances in the first half and second half. Francis (Forkey Doe) is a good striker because when he got his chance, he got a goal for us. The LionsXII are predictable with their long balls to the strikers and experience is missing from the team.”

LionsXII coach V.Sundramoorthy said, “We played below expectations and also gave the ball away easily rather than Terengganu winning possession from us. We will now have to work harder and see how we can reshuffle the team after reviewing the injuries, to prepare for the next game.”

The LionsXII's next match will be against old-rivals, Selangor FA at the Shah Alam Stadium on February 7.