Fandi: We held out well against tough Terengganu

LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad chose to dwell on the positives after a 1-1 home draw against Terengganu FA on Saturday evening.

Despite the LionsXII's third consecutive draw in the Malaysia Super League, Fandi Ahmad was encouraged by what he saw from his charges.

Chief among the targets achieved from their second home game of the season was silencing Brazilian striker Paulo Rangel and forcing him to go deep to retrieve the ball to start attacks instead of positioning himself in front of goal.

“It is not easy to play a tough team like Terengganu,” the LionsXII head coach said in his post-match press conference.

“But we did very well to keep Rangel out of the game as he did not have any shot at goal tonight, which was one of our objectives in this game.”

The local football legend was also pleased with how the team responded to fight back and eventually level the score after they went down early in the first half.

“We started slow and suffered early due to a lapse of concentration from set-plays,” he said.

“I knew though Terengganu are a first-half team, so I chose to unleash Sahil (Suhaimi) as our trump card after the break.

“We were happy with our second half performance and he could have scored for us if not for the woodwork.”

His Terengganu counterpart Abdul Rahman Ibrahim agreed the hosts showed plenty of fight when the chips were down and was not surprised with how his side were held to a draw.

“LionsXII are a more determined side and fight very aggressively when they are losing,” the 68-year-old veteran said.

“I salute them for the way they fought and managed to score the equaliser, while we were lacking confidence and concentration after taking the lead.”

The LionsXII's second half resurgence proved the visitors’ undoing in the end as the former Malaysia national coach admitted they were lucky to hold on for a point.

“When Singapore attacked with shorter, nippy players who knew how to make runs, they created many problems for us,” he said.

“We were retreating in the final 10 minutes of the game as we were afraid of committing more fouls, and we could have lost. Thus a draw is a good result for us.”

Turning to individual performances, Fandi admitted defender Wahyudi Wahid, who made his first league start at right-back, had yet to adapt to the nuances of the Malaysian game after he was replaced 33 minutes into the match.

“There is a difference between playing in the S.League and the Malaysia Super League, where opponents come quicker and harder at you relentlessly in the latter,” he said.

“He was nervous with his ball control and anticipation. Usually, he comes on during the game, but this was the first time he was starting.

“The defence was more stable after he came off because those who were on the pitch knew what they needed to do to deal with such teams and had the experience to cope.”

Photo: Football Association of Singapore