Madhu unperturbed by poor LionsXII away record

LionsXII have won just once in eight away games this season. But defender Madhu Mohana believes that will have little impact on their march towards the Malaysia Super League’s (MSL) top three. 

While LionsXII are unbeaten at home this season, producing six wins and two draws, they have struggled on the road, collecting just six points from the possible 24 on offer.

Despite that, Fandi Ahmad’s outfit have steadily risen up the 12-team MSL table and are now sitting in fourth position – just one point behind third-placed Perak FA and 10 behind leaders Pahang FA.

A top-three finish is certainly not beyond LionsXII’s reach now, however they will have to contend with playing half of their final six games away from their beloved Jalan Besar turf.

First up is Terengganu FA at the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium this Wednesday. That’s followed by a daunting trip to Larkin to face defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim a week later, before they round off their away calendar with a trip to Kuching to face Sarawak FA on August 19.

Centre-back Madhu readily acknowledged their struggles away from home, but believes that will do little to affect their charge towards the top.

“Every away game has been very tough for us,” he said before his side’s training session at Geylang Field on Monday evening.

“We’re playing in front of big, fanatic crowds, that’s why the home teams have been coming at us with 200 per cent and trying to kill us.  We always have to be cautious; we cannot go there, open up and simply concede goals.

“Even if we get a point, it’s good for us. As long as we continue to do well at Jalan Besar, it’ll be fine and we’ll still be able to rise up the table.”

Terengganu will again miss the services of last season’s Golden Boot winner Paulo Rangel, who is still serving out his three-month suspension for abusing match officials in the ill-tempered Malaysia FA Cup semi-final second leg between these two sides.

Yet the Turtles have kicked on well in the absence of the Brazilian hotshot, winning three successive MSL games and scoring 11 goals in the process.

The trio of Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Gustavo Lopez and Issey Nakajima-Farran have formed a fearsome attacking unit. In particular the latter is high in confidence after hitting a 24-minute hat-trick in last Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing of ATM FA. So Madhu won’t be taking any chances come matchday.

“Rangel is one of the top players in the MSL, so of course we will feel much better without him,” said the 24-year-old.

“But as you can see, their other foreigners have been doing very well and they’re in good form. So we have to be cautious and hopefully we get something from there.”

One area the LionsXII need to rectify is their recent tendency to concede early goals. In their past two matches, they have allowed their respective opponents in Perak and Felda to score the opener inside the first 15 minutes before coming back to win 2-1.

“Definitely we don’t want to concede early again lah,” mused Madhu, who is set to continue at the heart of defence alongside Zulfahmi Arifin.

“Sometimes things happen and we make mistakes which cost us goals. But we’re always positive that we’re capable of coming back, which we did so in the last two games. That shows our fighting spirit, so hopefully we carry that confidence into this game and help each other get a good result.”

Should Perak fail to beat PDRM, the LionsXII can go up to third with a victory against Terengganu.