Fandi pleased with morale boosting win

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The new LionsXII coach was pleased with the effort and attitude of his boys after notching their first win of the season in a 3-0 victory over DRB-Hicom FC in the Malaysia FA Cup

After their recent 1-0 defeat to Pahang FA in the opening game of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) last Friday, the LionsXII were desperate to get back to winning ways against DRB-Hicom FC in the Malaysia FA Cup.

And win they did, as the reigning MSL champions comfortably beat their Malaysian Premier League opponents 3-0 at the Bishan Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Sufian Anuar was the star of the match as he scored the opener in the first half, before setting up wingers Gabriel Quak and Faris Ramli to score in the second period.

Naturally, new LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad was pleased with his team’s efforts as he got his maiden victory in his first home game of the season, claiming it was the perfect tonic to kick start their season. 

“It’s a very important win and it’s a morale-booster for the boys because they’ve been looking for this type of game,” Fandi said at the post-match conference.

“We created a lot of chances in the second half, especially when we started playing. But the first half could have gone either way because of the difficulties in controlling the ball (on a bumpy pitch) and our midfield was a bit jittery at times. 

“I’m just happy that they managed to score three goals because to find that confidence is not easy. We created a lot of chances in pre-season in Yogyakarta, but today I thought it was quite fair for us to get at least three goals. 

“Even though it could have been more, I’m just happy that they’ve showed that character. Hopefully we can carry this forward against bigger, stronger teams.” 

Still, it seems that the victory came at a heavy price as vice-captain Safuwan Baharudin and right-back Faritz Hameed were stretchered off in the second half.

“Safuwan got a knock (on the knee), but we are not sure to what extent,” Fandi said. “We’ll see tomorrow whether there’s swelling, but he said it’s not too bad. Faritz, his toe got stamped on and it’s blue-black but hopefully it should be ok in the next few days.”

Despite the win, Fandi believes there is still room for improvement for his young team.

“Hopefully we can have more composure on the ball, that’s where we should play and how we want to attack,” he said. “But I thought the boys did what they were supposed to do, and the creativity was there, the speed was there, the finishing was there, but they were just unlucky at times.”

On the other hand, DRB-Hicom coach G. Torayraju was disappointed and felt that a poor second half showing cost his team dearly.

“I feel we had the chances, but we couldn’t make use of the opportunities and in the second half the team performance was not up to mark," he bluntly stated.

When asked what he thought of the LionsXII, Torayraju tipped them to achieve better results, although they would have to improve their attacking play.

“The teamwork is there; even against Pahang, commitment and teamwork is there, so they will go further, they are young players," he said. "They have some weakness when come to attacking, still not that up to mark from what I saw in Pahang, but they are 100 per cent committed to play for LionsXII. They will get better results.”

The LionsXII will face Selangor next in their first home league game of the season at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.