Fandi: Malaysia Cup preparations less than ideal

LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad has indicated that the team have faced difficulties in the run up to their Malaysia Cup campaign.

The Lions are looking to salvage their disastrous league campaign by having a successful Malaysia Cup tournament, but have found circumstances less than ideal, with the team hardly finding the time to train together due to callups to the National Teams and National Service commitments.

“The preparations haven’t been good,” Fandi told FourFourTwo.

“We only get to train for 3 days before the match, and we have just found out from FAM (Football Association Malaysia) that the suspensions carry over from the league so both Sufian and Raihan are out.

“Faritz (Hameed), Khai (2nd choice goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid) and Khairul Nizam are out injured as well so that’s 5 players unavailable for us.

“Those who are available have been training well and they played quite well in Austria, so the fitness isn’t a concern. But we haven’t been training as a team for quite some time so hopefully in the first game we can get a win.”

Ahead of the opening group match against Felda United, Fandi also admitted that the squad was down to its bare bones.  

Firdaus Kasman has to sit for examinations on match day, while Samuel Benjamin, Madhu Mohana and Faris Ramli could miss the game due to NS commitments.

A further three players — Emmeric Ong, Ignatius Ang and Syafiq Zainal, are in Brunei with the Singapore U-21 squad for the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy competition.

“I don’t know how but the players have to come or we will only have 14 players for the game, with two goalkeepers. We just hope the army boys are able to come out,” Fandi said.

“We are very thin and have almost no bench players. The only player we can sacrifice is Safuwan (Baharudin) because Afiq (Yunos) is there.

“But the important thing is we must stay positive and work hard. In the first two games, we have to collect maximum points.

“I just hope we avoid injuries to the players, especially up front.” 

Photo: Football Association of Singapore