LionsXII captain Isa Halim believes his team are ready for the upcoming 2014 Malaysia Cup as they aim to make up for a disappointing league season.
The 28-year-old was part of the 2013 Super League-winning team but failed to help the Singaporean side to defend their title as they limped to a disappointing 8th place finish, just four points above the relegation zone.
After being grouped with Malaysia Cup holders Pahang, FA Cup finalists Felda United and Premier League side Johor Darul Takzim II (JDT II) in Group A during the draw on Sunday, Isa claimed he was satisfied with the grouping.
“I think it is a good draw, where each team stands a chance to qualify from the group,” he told FourFourTwo.
“I will not exactly say it is the toughest draw because, for instance, Group C is arguably tougher because it has ATM, Kelantan and Johor Darul Takzim I.
“However, despite having two Premier League sides in our group, it does not make it any easier because the Malaysia Cup is a very prestigious tournament, where lower teams have come out on top against bigger sides [from time to time].
“Plus, [with local pride at stake,] the three Malaysian teams will give their best against us.”
Since joining the M-League in 2012, the LionsXII have achieved commendable results in the Malaysia Cup, finishing as semi-finalists in their first year and making it into the quarter-finals in the 2013 edition.
For Isa, he hoped his team would do as well this time around because it represented a chance at redemption.
“We reached the semi-finals [in 2012], so hopefully we will go one step further this year because the competition will be our last chance to salvage our disappointing season," he said.
“With some of our players returning from injuries and suspensions, I hope that we can put up a good run in the Malaysia Cup because I want to win for our fans that have been very supportive all season long.”
When asked which game he was looking forward to the most, Isa picked the home game against JDT II, where former LionsXII captain and team-mate Shahril Ishak is currently playing at.
It will be the 30-year-old's first meeting against the Lions following his move across the Causeway earlier this year.
“I cannot wait to play against Shahril at Jalan Besar. I am sure he will get a warm reception from the fans!” he laughed.
The 2014 Malaysia Cup will kick off on August 13th.
Photo Credit: Weixiang Lim