Fandi: LionsXII cannot afford passengers

Fandi Ahmad wants his LionsXII team to finish off the job against Terengganu FA when the two teams meet in the second leg of the Malaysia FA Cup semi-final on Saturday.

Speaking after their last full training session in Singapore before flying north of Malaysia, the LionsXII coach believes they need no extra motivation or incentive for them to silence an expected full house in the new Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium.

“This is the last step before the final,” he told FourFourTwo after their training session at Geylang Field.

“The players should be hungrier than ever. They should be thinking of wanting to play in a cup final.

“We would be playing in front of a full crowd at a new stadium, and it’s every player’s ambition to play in such an atmosphere.”

The Lions squandered several chances to widen the advantage at Jalan Besar Stadium last Saturday, and Fandi is refusing to take anything for granted ahead of the team’s biggest game of the season.

“In the last game, we had four to five open chances but we missed,” he said.

“We have to go there with a positive way of play. We have to go and find a goal, and we have to be compact and try not to concede at the back.”

Fandi will be mindful of a similar scenario with Young Lions back in May 2006, where they lost a 2-1 FA Cup semi-final first leg lead to succumb 2-3 on aggregate at the final whistle in Perlis.

Deprived of the services of an injured Shi Jiayi and a suspended Isa Halim, they conceded goals to the Zambian duo of Lamin Conteh and Philemon Chipeta in Kangar.

With several fouls against them going unheeded, the Young Lions’ night soured when Qiu Li was dismissed late in the match after referee Sukhbidin Salleh showed a straight red card for too much verbal dissent at a decision.

This time only Faris Ramli, Sahil Suhaimi and Christopher van Huizen are unavailable as they are away with the Singapore national Under-23 squad for a week-long training tour in Gotemba, Japan.

With Afiq Yunos a long-term injury casualty and Faritz Hameed having a stop-start season due to a recent accident that sidelined him again, the rest are fit and available for selection.

Fandi believes the situation is different this time as LionsXII look to make history as the first non-Malaysian side to reach the Malaysia FA Cup final.

“During that time we were missing some players so we lost 2-0,” he said.

“Now it’s a different game. Terengganu have four foreigners, but we have youngsters with plenty of determination and discipline.

“It is good to tell them they will make history for themselves and the country. We can surprise, because we hadn’t beaten them (away).”

Only two matters count for Fandi as the Lions hit the home stretch towards a potential Cup glory in Malaysia: motivation and sacrifice.

“There is no better motivation than to win and reach the final,” he said.

“But we have to sacrifice and put our bodies on the line when there is a need to.

“Terengganu will push and press, so we need to cut down all the space and passing angles. It’s about teamwork and giving 200 per cent effort.

“We cannot have two or three players who are passengers on the day, because if we give up halfway, it defeats all the hard work we have put to reach this far in the FA Cup.”