A visibly relieved Fandi Ahmad could not have been prouder of his charges after they clinched the Malaysia FA Cup for the first time with a 1-3 win against Kelantan FA on Saturday night.
“I promised you we would bring back the cup, and we did it the frustrating way,” the LionsXII said in his post-match press conference.
“We don’t have any stars in the team but we work hard for one another with solid defending, especially from our goalkeeper.”
With at least three huge saves to frustrate the Red Warriors and keep his side in contention, man-of-the-match Izwan Mahbud said he believed he could not have achieved much without a reliable rearguard.
“We were coming under a lot of pressure throughout the 90 minutes but I know my defenders and trust them,” the LionsXII captain said.
“They defended very well in front of me and this award is only possible because of them.”
The 24-year-old custodian also singled out Nazrul Nazari for keeping things tight at the back with several brilliant interceptions and clearances.
“Without Nazrul’s vital interception in the first half, it could have been 1-1 and the game would have been different,” Izwan added
Fandi alluded to his captain when discussing the espirit de corps the squad had forged through the highs and lows of a challenging cup campaign for LionsXII.
“I have faith with this group of players,” he said.
“They have so much confidence, they believe in one another that they can make things happen.
“They are benefitting from this experience which will only put them in good stead.”
He also thanked the Football Association of Singapore for releasing the four LionsXII players involved in the Singapore Under-23 squad to aid in the team’s preparations for the final.
That move paid off handsomely as two of them made an impact in the final. Faris Ramli opened the scoring, with Sahil Suhaimi coming on as a second half substitute to score a brace.
“We were short-handed at times this season as we had players away as part of the preparations for the Southeast Asian Games,” Fandi said.
“We [would like to thank] the FAS for releasing the SEA Games players for this big game. Faris and Sahil were brilliant, so I hope they can carry on that form during the Games.”
Photo: Crowd PRcomments