Hafiz ready to shackle dangerous Andik
The LionsXII will attempt to defend their unbeaten home record when they play host in a Malaysian Super League (MSL) clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The task will not be easy though as they are facing a Red Giants side which has the third-best attack in the league, boasting a record of 37 goals in 19 games.
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One of their main threats will be Indonesia starlet Andik, who is one of the league’s highest-scoring wingers with six goals to his name. The 23-year-old stands at just 1.62m tall, but has pace to burn and is excellent at set piece situations.
However, Hafiz gas acquitted himself well against Pahang FA’s Azamuddin Akil and Johor Darul Ta’zim’s (JDT) Amri Yahyah over the past week, and believes he is up to the task of stopping Andik.
“I remember playing against him in the 4-0 away defeat earlier this season and he was one of the main threats,” the LionsXII defender told FourFourTwo from the sidelines of his side’s training session at Geylang Field on Thursday evening.
“He has a low centre of gravity, is very nippy and fast; he can either run down the wing or go inside, so I need to be mentally prepared.
“Having played against so many wingers this season, I understand that I cannot win every tackle or duel, so it’s important how my left midfielder help me out in this.
“Depending on situations, I need them to help me go two versus one or even three vs one against him. If not, we have to cut the supply to him.”
Three days ago, the LionsXII battled hard in Larkin and were unfortunate not to collect a point against defending champions JDT after falling behind to Luciano Figueroa’s second-half goal.
Hafiz wants his side to replicate the same fighting spirit as they seek to finish in the top four, which will ensure seeding for the upcoming Malaysia Cup.
The 2013 MSL champions are now seventh in the 12-team table, three points behind fourth-placed Terengganu FA with just three games to go.
“It was very sad to lose that game because I think we didn’t play badly there,” the 24-year-old said.
“They didn’t give us much threat and I don’t think they even had a corner. We can compete well against them and it was down to both taking chances and Lady Luck.
“The ball went through Madhu’s (Mohana) legs and maybe the guy (Figueroa) didn’t have the intention to kick towards the right side (of goal), but we cannot look back now. We have to bounce back against Selangor and win all three remaining games if we can.”
While the main priority is to watch out for the threat Andik poses, Hafiz has vowed to stick to his usual bustling style down the left as the LionsXII aim to avenge the 4-0 drubbing at Shah Alam in April.
“When I’m playing away, I tend to sit back a little and let things settle down,” he explained.
“But when playing at home, I tend to go up more and get some good crosses in for the strikers. That is something which I’ll obviously try to do again.
“The scoreline then was bad but it was because everyone wasn’t on top of their game. I’m sure everyone will be ready for this latest test on Saturday.”
Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo