Fandi sweating on Izwan fitness ahead of Perak clash

LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad was happy enough with his side's 3-0 win over Kelantan, but admitted Izwan Mahbud's injury was a worrying one.

The goalkeeper went down clutching his knee in the 88th minute and had to be replaced by deputy Kairulhin Khalid.

The 24-year-old was spotted limping out of the mixed zone and onto the team bus after the game, sparking concern that he could be out of next Wednesday’s home game against Perak FA or for an even longer period of time.

“I don’t know if it’s a MCL (medial collateral ligament) injury or just a bruise,” said Fandi at the post-match press conference.

“He said he could not bend his knee. We have Khai who’s fast and agile, but Perak have two big boys (Namkung Woong and Charles Souza Chad) upfront so we’re just worried about the crosses and set pieces that will come in.

“We’ve three more days so hopefully Izwan can recover by then.”

Putting aside the injury cloud surrounding Izwan, Fandi was pleased that his side had excelled both in attack and defence – describing it as “one of the best” performances which they have put up this season.

“We played some good and exciting combination football tonight,” the 53-year-old said.

“Shahdan (Sulaiman) showed fantastic effort, lasting 90 minutes for the first time in seven months.

“He formed a good triangle in midfield with Safuwan (Baharudin) and Izzdin (Shafiq), helping the team with his technical ability and by playing those penetrative passes.

“At the back, Madhu (Mohana) and Shakir (Hamzah) were solid. Not forgetting Nazrul (Nazari) who saved us from conceding two goals; for a short guy, the amount of headers which he won was fantastic.”

Fandi also reserved praise for key forward Khairul Amri, who broke his eight-game goal drought in the league in fine style – racing past his marker Fitri Omar before slamming an excellent finish beyond Khairul Fahmi Che Mat from a tight angle.

The goal was only the 30-year-old’s second league goal of the season, with the first all the way back in February’s 2-2 away draw against Perak.

“He was frustrated (at not scoring), so today I just told him to be patient and the goal would come,” the former national forward said.

“Some of his passes went astray and he wasted two to three good chances, but that happens to strikers sometimes.

“At least I can see he is working very hard to hold up play and he is getting into the positions to score goals.

“The goal came from some good combination between him, Chris (van Huizen) and Faris (Ramli), I’m just happy for him after so long (without scoring).”