Afiq pleads for patience from LionsXII fans
The Singaporean team's chances of progressing from the Malaysia Cup group stages took yet another hit, as they fell to a 1-2 loss at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Certain sections of the fans were audibly voicing their displeasure towards Fandi in the dying moments of the Group A encounter, with many frustrated after a string of indifferent results carrying over from the league campaign.
With just one point from two games after an opening draw with Felda United, the LionsXII now face an uphill task to make it to the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals.
Defender Afiq Yunos jumped to his coach's defence after the game, keen to stress that it wasn't all down to the embattled former football legend.
“The fans really need to understand him,” he told FourFourTwo.
“We know that they really want results and actually we have been doing pretty well, it’s just that we cannot score the goals.”
Indeed, the LionsXII were the more attacking of the two sides last night as they created numerous half-chances in front of goal.
However the visitors proved to more clinical as Dickson Nwakaeme capitalized on a defensive lapse for the first goal, while Fauzi Roslan thumped home the winner late on after the LionsXII had committed bodies forward in search of the equaliser.
Afiq admitted that the defence could have done better to prevent the two Pahang strikes.
“We need to show more concentration in defence,” he said.
“For the first goal, we cannot give him (Nwakaeme) the space to take a shot like that and he really took the chance.
“For the second, everyone need to come down to defend after attacking – it’s our mistake that no one is closing that guy (Fauzi) down and let him have a free shot.”
Putting aside the disappointment of the defeat, Afiq said he was glad to be handed a starting slot alongside Safuwan Baharudin at the back again – an opportunity which he does not take for granted after Baihakki Khaizan’s return on a loan deal.
With Baihakki set to miss the upcoming double-header against Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) II, Afiq is confident that his pairing with Safuwan will hold up well.
“I’ve only played a few games since Bai returned,” the former Courts Young Lions defender said.
“I think I did pretty well tonight, just that I could have done better to score with a header early on.”
Afiq was also adamant that the team would bounce back from this defeat.
“The team is still feeling very confident,” he insisted.
“We just need to take our chances and score goals. We still have a good chance to qualify if we take six points against JDT II.”
Photo Credit: Muhammad Yusuf/Football Association of Singapore