JDT 1 LionsXII 0: Poor away record continues for Singaporeans

LionsXII’s away woes continued on Wednesday night after they suffered a 1-0 defeat against defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) at the Tan Sri Dato Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium. 

Luciano Figueroa’s 55th-minute goal was enough to separate the two sides in a tightly-contested affair and extend his side’s unbeaten record at Larkin to 39 games.

Meanwhile the LionsXII continue to whimper away from home, with just a solitary win and three draws from their 10 games on the road this season.

LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad saw little reason to tinker with his side, naming an unchanged line-up from the one that started the delightful 4-2 win against Pahang FA on Saturday.

The Singaporeans started well in the first 10 minutes but were unable to convert from a couple of dead-ball opportunities.

The Southern Tigers then created the first two real chances of the game, but Figueroa and Amri Yahyah were unable to put their shots on target.

Much was at stakes for both sides, which was evident on 17 minutes as JDT midfielder Hariss Harun took no prisoners with a couple of tough challenges on former teammates Safuwan Baharudin and Khairul Nizam.

The LionsXII were happy to deploy a soak-and-strike strategy which led to them creating their first opening after 29 minutes, as Nizam lashed disappointingly over after a 30-yard solo run.

They could have stolen a shock lead on the stroke of half-time, but Safuwan was unable to turn home at the far post after Figueroa’s headed clearance on Faris Ramli’s corner had fallen into his path.

Following the defeat to JDT, have LionsXII waved goodbye to the top four?

JDT continued to find it hard to break down the LionsXII defence after the break as coach Mario Gomez summoned Safee Sali, who scored the match winner the last time out against ATM FA, to replace Jasazrin Jamaluddin on 54 minutes.

That switch worked to a treat as Safee played a crucial part in his side’s opener just one minute later.

The 31-year-old dummied S. Kunanlan’s low cross into the path of Figueroa, who left Madhu Mohana for dead before firing an unerring finish past the rooted Izwan Mahbud from eight yards out.

Fandi reacted by throwing on Sahil Suhaimi for Khairul Nizam for the last half-hour, but the 23-year-old found the going tough as he lashed over from 30 yards.

LionsXII piled on the pressure in the dying minutes, but there was no getting past JDT keeper Farizal Marlias, with the Southern Tigers conceding just 11 goals all season long.

Eventually it was JDT who grinded out the narrow win which helped them stay top of the Malaysia Super League (MSL) table, a point above second-placed Pahang FA, who thumped Kelantan FA 5-3 on the same night.

Meanwhile the LionsXII stayed in seventh with 29 points from 19 games and will look to bounce back when they host arch-rivals Selangor FA on Saturday evening. 

Photo courtesy of Football Association of Singapore