FourFourTwo Player Ratings: Perak 2 LionsXII 2
Izwan Mahbud 7
With a nervy backline in front of him, the LionsXII goalkeeper could not do much about either Perak goal. He did get both hands to Namkung Woong’s effort but was unable to keep out the Korean’s precise header. The custodian’s first minute save from Tuah Iskandar’s piledriver ranks as one of his most spectacular to date. Another highlight of Izwan’s game was his ability to pick out his forwards with divine accuracy - one of his passes sending Khairul Amri through on goal.
Nazrul Nazari 6
A decent outing for the makeshift right-back as he continues to deputise for the injured Faritz Hameed. While his pace and work-rate served him well in his full-back role, Nazrul’s lack of height was telling against the physically-superior Perak as the hosts took advantage of his clearest weakness. Nazrul will also rue the fact that he did not offer as much going forward as he had done against PDRM FA in the first match of the season.
Afiq Yunos 5
The sooner Safuwan Baharudin’s stint in Australia comes to an end, the better for LionsXII. Another shaky performance from the Singapore side’s backline was largely down to Afiq being all at sea, with his mistakes costing his side. The centre-back conceded a needless free-kick and lost sight of Chad Souza at the resulting set-piece, allowing the latter to head in the ball unmarked. In addition, Afiq’s passes from the back failed to find their intended targets as much as he would have liked them to.
Madhu Mohana 6
After being the shining light at the centre of his defence’s impressive outing against Kelantan, this time Madhu let himself down with a limp performance at Perak. His tell-tale weakness was clear when he let Namkung Woong creep in behind him to head in the home side’s second goal. Was robust in most tackles, but while Madhu has been more vocal of late in response to Fandi’s call for more leaders, it has to be said that he was no lion in the Lions defence’s unequal challenge against Perak’s forwards. Seemed to pick up an injury towards the end of the match.
Hafiz Sujad 7
The capable left-back had a busy game as opponents Tuah Iskandar and Muhd Nurridzuan combined down his flank. As ever, Hafiz was full of running, getting upfield whenever possible and even filling in in defence at crucial junctures when Afiq Yunos was caught out of position. Used heavily in midfield last season, Hafiz may finally have found his true calling as a marauding full-back, if his performances this season are anything to go by. Pulled up and had to be replaced late in the second half.
Zulfahmi Arifin 6
Played in the most advanced role of the midfield three, Zulfahmi’s role was to create and he did well in the build-up to the first goal. His peach of a cross found Faris Ramli for the latter to knock the ball into Khairul Amri’s path for the opener of the match. Often dropped deeper to play his trademark long balls when the action eluded him higher in midfield. Was replaced by Firdaus Kasman in the second half.
Isa Halim (C) 6
If Fandi Ahmad is seeking a defensive lynchpin to stamp his authority in midfield and break down opposition attacks, then Isa Halim would appear to be his man. But it is the Isa Halim of old that he will need, not the invisible man who put on an ineffectual display against Perak. Isa failed to get hold of play in midfield, although the captain’s distribution was mostly on point. But the tireless running and pressing game that fans had become used to seeing is sorely missing in the present day within this LionsXII midfield. Was put out of his misery when replaced by Sahil Suhaimi, as his side went in search of the equaliser.
Izzdin Shafiq 7
One of the better players in the opening games of the season, Izzdin carried on his good work by making his presence felt at both ends of the pitch. A shot from outside the box that was flicked on towards goal by Khairul Amri almost found the back of the net. Played plenty of clever passes all around the park as he exuded class throughout.
Gabriel Quak 6
Not quite a festive period of joy for the winger as he was rather anonymous, but came to the fore in crucial periods with his crossing causing danger. Had an exquisite free-kick tipped wide when it seemed destined for the back of the net. Will look to build on this performance for the next outing, as he searches for a consistent final product in his game apart from the occasional blockbuster goal.
Faris Ramli 7.5
Before the game, Fandi Ahmad expressed his happiness at Faris’ return to the squad due to his “ability to open up defences”. The winger did exactly as his coach wanted, opening up the Perak defence for the first goal as he turned his defender inside out before laying the ball into Khairul Amri’s path. Drew fouls aplenty from the Perak defenders as they resorted to brute tactics, unable to cope with his trickery and direct running all game. With Faris in their side, scoring opportunities won’t be hard to come by for the LionsXII this season.
Khairul Amri 7.5
Gave the watching faithful a perfect reminder of his technique with an extremely well taken opening goal, also starting the move. As always, held the ball up well and was full of industry up front. With Amri, opponents are never quite sure if he will stick positionally to playing as a striker or drifting wide due to the amount of running he does across the entire final third of the pitch. With the game tied at 2-2, Amri did have a brilliant chance to win all three points for his side, only for his shot to be cleared off the line.
Sahil Suhaimi 6
Brought on when LionsXII went in search of the equaliser, Sahil put himself about but was rarely involved in the final third. Well shackled by the Perak defence and closed down whenever he got on the ball.
Wahyudi Wahid 7
If Fandi Ahmad had been rueing his luck when Hafiz Sujad limped off, then Wahyudi ‘s performance at full-back would have eased his worries significantly. The versatile player performed his duties with aplomb and even found time to cause troubles up front, getting to the by-line on several occasions to whip in dangerous crosses.
Firdaus Kasman 7
Fantastic Firdaus came to the rescue for the LionsXII with a stupendous strike to level matters. From about 25 yards, the substitute smashed the ball into the back of the net in a truly brilliant showcase of the man’s talent. After shoring up the midfield with his dynamism as well, it may not be necessary for Firdaus to warm the bench anymore this season.
All images: LionsXII