PB Melayu Kedah 0 LionsXII 4: Sahil brace ensures progression
Half-time substitute Sahil Suhaimi’s brace, sandwiching a Gabriel Quak strike, was instrumental against their third tier opponents after Afiq Yunos put the visitors ahead late in the first half.
The win sets up an octofinal home clash for the LionsXII against Putrajaya SPA FC.
Fandi Ahmad’s side could have gone ahead as early as the second minute when Quak sent his shot just over the bar on the edge of the box.
This was as close as the Singaporeans got though as they endured a sustained period of pressure from their FAM League hosts midway in the first half.
Stand-in goalkeeper Khairulhin Khalid almost gifted Kedah the lead on 17 minutes when he fumbled a deep cross from the left by Luqman Saad.
With Syukri Ahmad lurking nearby, he quickly recovered to hold the ball the second time.
The Kedah striker came close again seven minutes later when he capitalised on the hesitancy of the LionsXII centre back pairing of Afiq and Madhu Mohana, only to see his shot hit the crossbar.
The underdogs’ failure to take their chances came back to haunt them eight minutes before the break when Afiq glanced a Faris Ramli corner into the far inside of the net as Sheril Anuar Saini failed to catch the cross.
Quak and Khairul Amri came close to extending the lead for LionsXII in the minutes after, only for Sheril’s gloves and the woodwork to deny them respectively.
Coming on for Izzdin Shafiq after half-time, Sahil wasted no time making his mark in the game with a goal just two minutes after his introduction.
Kedah defender Nizam Mansour misjudged the trajectory of a long Nazrul Nazari pass inside the box, allowing the 22-year-old to take a first-time right-foot shot that flew over Sheril and into the net.
He squandered a couple of chances to add his tally in the intervening minutes before Quak made it 3-0 three minutes after the hour.
The winger broke the offside trap to receive a lobbed through pass from Firdaus Kasman, rounding an onrushing Sheril before slotting low into an empty net.
Khairulhin ensured the visitors would keep a clean sheet when he was called upon to save a low long shot from Sadam Hashim on 66 minutes.
Down by three goals, Kedah were dealt with another blow when Sheril failed to overcome his hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Firdaus Che Ani late in the match.
Sahil completed the scoring five minutes before time when he dived in unmarked to head home a cross from fellow substitute Syafiq Zainal.
There was to be no dream hat-trick for him in the end though as he was denied twice by the Kedah substitute custodian in injury time.
Photo: Football Association of Singapore