FourFourTwo Player Ratings: Lions XII 1 Sarawak 0

Fandi Ahmad's men did what counted to end a streak without a win. Gary Koh grades which players made the most improvement at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday evening.

Izwan Mahbud 8

His solid performance between the posts was an integral part of the LionsXII keeping a clean sheet at home. Never put a foot wrong in his decision-making, and pulled off the saves when they mattered most. Denied a Sarawak equaliser from Shreen Thambi when one-on-one inside the box in the 71st minute.

Nazrul Nazari 7

He performed decently in an unfamiliar position as he took the place of suspended left-back Hafiz Abu Sujad. He initially struggled to get to grips with the Crocodiles’ pacey game in the final third, but shielded the ball from his aggressors better after the break.

Zulfahmi Arifin 6.5

Despite a slight tendency to leave space for an opponent to roam unmarked inside his area, the improvement Zulfahmi has shown in his new role still continued as he made some vital interceptions to prevent further danger. His levels of concentration still need upgrading on the evidence of the second half though, as he was occasionally left out to dry by Shreen Thambi.

Madhu Mohana 7

The defender had an almost faultless game as he kept Ivan Fatic quiet for much of the 90 minutes. He displayed good, measured aggression to keep things tight in the centre of defence. Madhu also created the team’s first chance when he headed wide from a corner, though he and Zulfahmi were responsible for nearly allowing Patrick Gerhardt to equalise late in the match.

Raihan Rahman 7

With Nazrul Nazari shifted to left-back, Raihan Rahman was given a chance to redeem himself on the opposite flank and did so commendably in a position he had not played in for close to a year. He combined his tough tackling with a no-fuss approach to ball distribution. Ensured his flank was hardly breached for much of the game.

Faris Ramli 6

Not a good outing for the winger as he embarked on aimless dribbles down the left, lacking incisiveness in his attempts to pierce the resolute Sarawak defence. On one occasion in the first half, he usurped Khairul Amri and wasted a good scoring opportunity when he took over responsibility of the ball but ended up sending his attempt over.

Izzdin Shafiq 6.5

Another commendable outing for the dynamic midfielder who continued doing his share of initiating attacks, even after his colleagues constantly squandered the promising moves that started from his feet.

Firdaus Kasman 6.5

A hardworking display that was undone by the occasional moment of carelessness in his defensive work. He lung-bursting efforts to link defence and attack helped Fandi Ahmad’s fluid 4-4-2 formation to function, with his toil crucial to get things moving in the middle of the park.

Syafiq Zainal 6.5

Once again fielded in a makeshift right midfield role from the start, Syafiq put in a determined display there to ensure his flank was rarely breached in defence. He showed his battling qualities in the final third too, as he weighed in with a couple of crosses before he making way after the break.

Khairul Amri 7.5

The veteran forward showed his selflessness in holding up the ball in the final third. It was his cross that ultimately led to his half-brother’s goal, after its poor clearance led to Nizam slotting home. Made way with five minutes remaining after a job well done setting up his team-mates.

Khairul Nizam 7

He was at the right place at the right time to stab home the only goal of the evening with an opportunistic finish following a botched Sarawak defensive clearance inside their own box. His tireless running stretched his markers even when he barely saw the ball in a tough first half for the Lions.

Substitutes

Gabriel Quak 6

Making his entry after the break, he had few opportunities to shine. Despite making a few dribbles down the right, Quak was otherwise unable to make much headway to cause more problems in the final third.

Wahyudi Wahid NA

He did not have too much to do, never putting a foot wrong in his first competitive appearance in more than a month at right-back.

Isa Halim NA

The captain was brought on to showcase his defensive qualities as LionsXII held on to their lead, though his contributions were less noticeable in the limited time he had. With Izwan in supreme form beside him, Isa had little trouble slotting into the side as his team held out.

All images: LionsXII