Who stood out during the LionsXII's 1-1 draw with Terengganu FA on Saturday? Zee Ko dishes out grades to Fandi's men.
Izwan Mahbud 8
The LionsXII No. 1 played an important part once again, keeping the opposition forwards at bay with some athletic saves. Although there was nothing he could do about Vincent Bikana's bullet header, the two first-half saves from Terengganu captain Zairo Anuar's long-range thunderbolts were key. The LionsXII will hope their goalkeeper stays fit this year, because he is usually worth a few points on his own.
Wahyudi Wahid 4.5
A first league start of the season for Wahyudi was not a happy one, as he lasted just over half an hour. The right back looked extremely nervy going up against the speedy Sharin Sapien, and never really settled into the game. After an embarrassing moment when the former Hougang United defender misjudged a regulation header and went sailing past the ball, then followed it up shortly by passing straight to an opposition player, Fandi wisely decided to put an end to his wretched outing, hooking him off for Afiq Yunos. One hopes this will be a learning experience, and he'll come back stronger in future.
Zulfahmi Arifin 7
Another solid outing for Zulfahmi as the converted centre-back did well alongside first Madhu Mohana and then Afiq Yunos. Fandi looks to have successfully unearthed another central defensive option after Afiq's unfortunate injury problems, with Zulfahmi not looking out of place against a dangerous Terangganu attack. Gone are the raking long crossfield passes, and in its place is no-nonsense defending and calm distribution out the back. Paulo Rangel was kept fairly quiet, in no small part down to Zulfahmi's efforts.
Madhu Mohana 7.5
Madhu has stepped up a gear this season in Safuwan Baharudin's absence, and once again put in another solid shift. Starting in central defence alongside Zulfahmi, he was soon moved over to right back after Afiq Yunos' introduction. Nevertheless, he continued to impose himself both in attack and defence. His clearing header from a Terengganu corner kick in the second half fell perfectly for Sahil Suhaimi to launch the counter attack that led to the LionsXII equaliser, while an interception off Gustavo Lopez's shot was key after Izwan had been beaten.
Hafiz Abu Sujad 7
The LionsXII left back covered his flank well, offering support for Faris Ramli in the form of overlapping runs throughout the contest, although his final ball sometimes leaves much to be desired. Hafiz has shown enough so far this season to justify a regular starting role after Shakir Hamzah's departure, although there seems to be very little cover if he does get sidelined at any stage.
Firdaus Kasman 7
Not many people would have picked Firdaus to be a regular starter for the LionsXII at the beginning of the season, but the central midfielder has recently started to show his worth to the team. The former Tampines Rovers man has formed a tidy partnership with Izzdin Shafiq in the middle of the park and although he didn't show it against Terengganu, is a goal threat from distance. On Saturday, Firdaus was invaluable in keeping the ball moving, and was constantly on the look out for opportunities to thread balls to the forwards.
Isa Halim (c) 6
Yet another subdued performance from the LionsXII captain, who was taken off for Sahil Suhaimi at halftime as Fandi switched from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2. While Isa has never been the flashiest of players, often preferring the simple pass to teammates rather than hollywood raking balls, his position in front of defence this season has seen him make little impact. Isa is supposed to be the shield in front of the back four, but one wonders if a more adventurous role would be suitable when playing at home.
Izzdin Shafiq 7
Izzdin's return to the LionsXII team this season has been timely, especially with Shahdan Sulaiman out for the forseeable future. The central midfielder is an integral part of what makes the LionsXII engine room tick, and showed his worth once again on Saturday night against Terangganu FA. Buzzing around midfield, Izzdin constantly put himself in positions where he could link defence and attack when he had the ball, and prevented the opposition from playing rapid passes on the ground when they were in possession.
Gabriel Quak 6.5
After some good form in recent games, Quak was rather less effective as the LionsXII returned to Jalan Besar Stadium. He showed glimpses of his ability by stretching the opposition full back on a few occasions, and did slam the ball into the net after a corner kick was not cleared properly but the goal was ultimately chalked off due to handball in the build up. Tight defending meant opportunities to cut in and shoot were limited on this occasion.
Faris Ramli 8
Faris' pace and trickery were on show for most of the night, as he tormented Terengganu right back Azlan Zainal by constantly trying to run at him down his flank. Although this didn't result in a goal in the first half, the majority of the LionsXII's corner kicks came from defenders trying their best to get the ball away from the LionsXII winger. Deserved plaudits for his goal in the second half, as he corrected his run on the break to account for Sahil's slightly overhit pass, before cutting in past his marker and driving a beautiful low shot past the goalkeeper with his weaker left foot.
Khairul Amri 7
Cut a frustrated figure in the first half, manfully trying to chase down long balls while sandwiched between two burly central defenders who were double-teaming him at every opportunity. Lost Vincent Bikana in the box as the Cameroonian headed home the opener, although what Amri was doing marking an opponent easily twice his size is anyone's guess. Found much more space in the second half as Sahil Suhaimi's introduction gave him much needed support up front, rocking the right hand post with a curling shot that could have gone in on another day.
Afiq Yunos 7
Gout or not, Afiq's introduction in the first half visibly steadied the defence as Madhu moved out to right back to accomodate him. Could even have scored shortly after coming on at halftime, only to see his goalbound header cleared off the line by an instinctive Shahrin. Carried on bravely as the game drew to a close, despite taking a blow to the face from Paulo Rangel that left him seeing stars.
Sahil Suhaimi 7.5
The impact substitute's introduction after the break immediately swung the game in the LionsXII's favour, as his presence in the attacking third gave the Terengganu defenders something else to worry about. Sahil was also the player who sparked a counter attack that led to the equaliser, speeding into the opposition half before releasing the overlapping Faris. Also rocked the crossbar with his late free kick, and replays indicate that it might actually have crossed the line before bouncing back out. Only blemish was a booking from the referee for some lip late in the game.
Syafiq Zainal 6
There would be no repeat of 2013, when Syafiq outjumped Bikana to score the winner against Terengganu. This time, the 23-year-old came on with 18 minutes to go, but mostly just ran around to little effect.