FourFourTwo Player Ratings: Kelantan 1 LionsXII 3
- Khairul Fahmi Che Mat 5.5
It was a game the Malaysia international will wish to forget in a hurry. While he did not have much to do as Kelantan were piling on the pressure at the other end, he was often exposed each time the LionsXII approached his area. The three goals he conceded were not of his doing, but his marshalling of the back four in front of him could have been better.
- Noor Hazrul 5.5
The left-back had an average final showing. While a couple of his long passes from deep managed to find their intended target and caused problems in the LionsXII defence, he did not have much to show for his efforts. A quiet evening on his side of the pitch as his opponents focused their attacks at the other flank.
- Amirizwan Taj 5
The centre back endured a torrid outing at the heart of the Kelantan defence as he was regularly given the runaround first by Khairul Nizam and then Sahil Suhaimi. He was unable to cope with the latter’s unpredictability and pace in the final third as he conceded a clumsy penalty that was converted in the final moments of the game.
- Jonathan McKain 5
The Australian defender did not enjoy the best of games in defence as he struggled to keep the half-brothers Khairul Amri and Khairul Nizam in check. It was his failure to close down on Faris Ramli as the LionsXII winger entered the box and rounded up Khairul Fahmi that led to the opening goal after just seven minutes.
- Nik Shahrul Azim 4
A torrid evening for the right-back as he was directly responsible for the first two LionsXII goals on either side of half time. It was his mistake that allowed Faris Ramli time and space to produce an expert finish early in the first half while he squandered possession to allow Sahil Suhaimi to fire home from distance. His hesitancy often saw him being targeted each time the LionsXII players were in possession.
- Norhafiz Zamani Misbah 5
The veteran defensive midfielder failed to impose himself in his role in front of the back four as he often dropped back too deep and gave up the initiative in the middle of the park to Izzdin Shafiq and Safuwan Baharudin. This was apparent in the final 15 minutes of the game as LionsXII dictated the tempo each time they had the ball at the other end without him harrying them into mistakes.
- Badri Radzi 6
The Kelantan captain had a quiet evening in the middle of the park. While he managed to pull the strings between midfield and attack, the intense high pressing game deployed by Fandi Ahmad’s men saw him have a limited impact. Despite his best efforts to attempt a comeback, he was left frustrated by his colleagues’ profligacy in front of goal.
- Wan Zaharul Nizam 5.5
The centre midfielder was not his usual combative self, save for a few bursts into the final third in the first half. He didn't really imposed himself in the middle of the park, often leaving his midfield partner Badri Radzi overworked as the harrying rendered him ineffective. A couple of attempts from distance that went way off target summed up a dismal evening.
- Wan Zack Haikal 7
One of the few bright sparks in the Red Warriors camp as he kept persisting with his energetic runs down the right and was rewarded with the equaliser towards the end of the first half. He was often in the right place to cause problems for Hafiz Abu Sujad and distribute crosses for the wasteful strike duo of Erwin Carillo and Gilmar da Silva.
- Erwin Carillo 6
The Colombian target man saw his goal-bound shot inside the six-yard box denied by desperation defending from Nazrul Nazari. While he often got himself into good positions in the final third and caused problems for Zulfahmi Arifin in particular, his frustration with the team's inability to turn their period of dominance and pressure into goals eventually got the better of him as his shooting later left much to be desired.
- Gilmar da Silva 6
The Brazilian striker was toiling hard to find space and seek out his teammates in the final third, but cut a frustrated figure as he failed to trouble Izwan Mahbud in the LionsXII goal. He regularly dropped back into attacking midfield as he worked with Badri Radzi to find ways to exploit weaknesses in the opposing defence. While he was successful in finding those gaps on occasion, his inability to finish saw his efforts in the build-up come to nought. Gilmar's assist for Kelantan's goal was the only thing that went right for him all evening.
- Farisham Ismail 5
Replacing Jonathan McKain midway in the second half, Farisham did not have much to do at first. However, he found himself overwhelmed by the pressure from LionsXII towards the end and his disappearance left Amirizwan Taj with too much to do in defence.
- Farhan Mohamad 5
Farhan started off brightly with a shot from outside the box that just went over, but faded quickly and also failed to provide protection for the back four like the man he replaced, Norhafiz Zamani.
- Austin Amutu 5
The Nigerian was supposed to be the Red Warriors’ trump card coming off the bench, but failed to make any impact in the final third. Unlike his strike partners Gilmar and Erwin Carillo, he did not even register a single shot at goal.
- Izwan Mahbud 9
While it was Sahil Suhaimi who stole the headlines, no one could deny that the 24-year-old played an integral part in winning the Cup for the Singaporeans. Wearing the captain’s armband, Izwan commanded his backline well and made a slew of saves to keep the score down. Having made two brilliant one-on-one blocks with his legs in the first half, he produced yet another stupendous flying save to tip over Erwin Carrillo’s 25-yard piledriver when the scoreline was locked at 1-1. Deservedly named the Man of the Match.
- Nazrul Nazari 8.5
It was yet another accomplished performance for Nazrul, who seems to be growing into this new right-back role. The 24-year-old frustrated Wan Zaharulnizam down his flank throughout and was key in a number of defensive interceptions. The first-half block on Carrillo’s goalbound shot was reminiscent of Noh Rahman’s block on Suchao Nutnum in Singapore’s 2007 AFF Suzuki Cup final against Thailand. When the defence faltered on a couple of occasions, he was there to bail them out.
- Madhu Mohana 8
Up against the likes of Carrillo and Gilmar, Madhu had his hands full all night but he managed to emerge unscathed on most occasions – often muscling out the forwards or completing defensive headers with his usual excellence. Showed why he has the potential to be a national team regular for years to come.
- Zulfahmi Arifin 7.5
It has been quite the season for Zulfahmi who has successfully transformed from an elegant playmaker to a tough ball-playing defender. Apart from being caught out for Wan Zack Haikal’s equalizer, the 23-year-old was generally immaculate in his defensive interceptions and distribution of crossfield passes. A particular nonchalant shimmy out of defence, when the score was still at 1-1, was a particular highloght on the night.
- Hafiz Sujad 7.5
For someone who admitted that he can be a hot head in momentous occasions like this, Hafiz handled the game very well – sticking to his no-frills style by clearing the ball upfield and curbing the urge to bomb forward and support Faris Ramli down his flank. Wan Zack had the better of him on a few instances, but he recovered well to dictate terms.
- Gabriel Quak 7
This was not the best of performances from Quak, who continually failed to get the better of Kelantan full-backs Nik Shahrul and Noor Hazrul despite switching flanks halfway through. He was not to be faulted for a lack of effort though as he ran his socks off before limping off late on due to an injury. Helped out in defence too as the LionsXII defended in numbers to preserve their early lead. Commendable.
- Izzdin Shafiq 7.5
Yet another excellent performance from the smooth operator, who has yet to miss a game this season. This was Izzdin's 17th game in succession, but he showed no signs of weary legs – often coming out on top in duels with Kelantan midfielders Badhri Razi and Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, as well as showcasing his excellent range of passing. His defence-splitting pass to Faris paved the way for the LionsXII to assert their authority early on.
- Safuwan Baharudin 7
This is Safuwan’s third game back in the LionsXII jersey since returning from his Melbourne City loan and it was the most anonymous display of the lot. Rattled by the imposing Badhri, the 23-year-old was unable to impose himself in the middle of the park. For someone who has performed to the highest standards, he will definitely look to do better in the upcoming games.
- Faris Ramli 8
Once again, Faris showed how valuable he is to the LionsXII cause with yet another barnstorming display down the wings. Having missed out on the second leg tie against Terengganu, the 23-year-old seemed determined to make up for that – producing a surging run that saw him slot home the first goal and made a number of dangerous runs in the attacking third throughout. Played his part in the killer third goal, by playing a superb ball from the right for Sahil who was then brought down by Amiridzwan Taj for the winning penalty.
- Khairul Nizam 6.5
Having made his mark in recent weeks, this was a more subdued appearance from Nizam. Despite some flashes of good link-up play, the 23-year-old was unable to get the better of Amiridzwan and Jonathan McKain all night and was forced off early in the second half after sustaining a knee injury. LionsXII fans will be hoping it is not too serious and he can return to continue his fledgling partnership with Amri.
- Khairul Amri 7
Much of the pre-match focus was on Amri’s recent red-hot goalscoring form and big-game temperament, but just like his strike partner, the 30-year-old was unable to pose a decent threat upfront. Credit where it’s due though – he worked his socks off to defend from the front and dropped back into defence on a number of occasions to help out. Seeing his central striker making a successful tackle near the corner flag to prevent a counterattack must have warmed Fandi's heart.
- Sahil Suhaimi 8.0
Well, what else can we say? In a high-stakes football match like this where there was little difference between both sides, a special talent was needed to step up to deliver the goods for his side and that man turned out to be Sahil.
Coming on in the last half hour for the injured Nizam, Sahil initially struggled to adapt, wasting possession during a number of counter-attacking situations. However he turned on the style at the right time – going on a virtuoso 40-yard run from inside his own half to slam home the second goal, before earning a penalty which he converted late on to kill the tie.
Singaporeans will hope to see more of the same when he features for the Singapore Under-23s at the SEA Games.
- Firdaus Kasman N.A.
Firdaus came on for the injured Amri in the last 10 minutes and managed to keep things neat in his short time on the pitch, which in turn allowed the attackers to go forward and win the match.
- Christopher Van Huizen N.A.
The young winger came on for Quak in the dying minutes and understandably did not have time to make an impact on the game.