Photo by BP Chua
<Updated with post match video interview with Khairul Nizam and Coach Sundram from LionXII>
Seremban – The Negeri Sembilan Ultras turned up in full force, sang through out the entire 90 minutes and even included songs which hurled abuses at the LionsXII. All that did not deter the LionsXII from claiming another three priceless points, and finding their way to the peak of the Malaysia Super League table as they overcame 2011 Malaysia Cup Champions Negeri Sembilan 4-2 at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Safuwan Baharudin opened the scoring on 14 minutes to calm all nerves within the LionsXII camp after the visitors were kept on the back foot for most of the opening exchanges. Madhu Mohana’s long throw from the left caused confusion within the Negeri penalty box before G Mahathevan’s weak clearance allowed Safuwan to pounce for the LionsXII to draw first blood.
The hosts were obviously shocked at the goal they conceded considering they had looked the likelier side to draw first blood given their display in the opening minutes. They found themselves two goals down six minutes later as a result of another defensive mix up.
Marian Farbak and Mahathevan were at fault once again as the pair failed to communicate, which allowed a lurking Khairul Nizam to sneak in and go aroundMalaysiainternational goalkeeper Farizal Marlias to place the ball into an empty net.
The Jangs were awarded a lifeline when Mahathevan coolly tapped home a knock down by Farbak on 33 minutes. Shahurain Abu Samah’s corner was met by Farbak although there was contact between the Slovakian defender and Hyrulnizam Juma’at although the former was adjudged to have been fouled by the latter in that challenge. The referee was having none of the claims by Hyrulnizam as he awarded the goal to Negeri.
Negeri gave the LionsXII a real scare when Shakir Ali’s header off a cross on the right by Shahurain rocked the crossbar with Hyrulnizam well beaten. V Sundramoorthy will not be too happy about the amount of space given to Shakir in the danger area.
Skipper Shahril Ishak then set LionsXII firmly on course for victory on 42 minutes. A weak headed clearance by Mahathevan found Shahril on the edge of the box. The Singapore International cleverly beat both Mahathevan as well as Farbak, before curling a shot into the bottom right hand corner of Farizal’s goal. That was Shahril ninth goal of the season.
Khairul Nizam could have put the tie to sleep on the stroke of half time when he was put through by Hariss Harun. With only Farizal to beat, Farbak flew in with a challenge out of nowhere to deflect the ball away for a corner. The resulting corner also proved to be the last piece of action of an eventful first half.
Negeri came out for the second half of the game in search for an early goal to draw closer, score-wise. However, it was LionsXII who came close five minutes after the restart. Sevki Sha’ban’s long punt upfront seemed to be comfortably rolling onto the path of a Negeri defender. Nizam, showing commitment and determination, decided to chase down the loose ball, and he did so with aplomb before firing a shot from 20 yards which bounced to safety off the upright. The 20-year-old striker sunk to his knees in disbelief wondering what else he needed to do to increase his and LionsXII’s tally for the night.
Shakir Ali had a penalty claim turned away by the referee, much to the disgust of some 8000 fans in the stadium. The striker who wasn’t deemed fit to start the game had earlier on received a yellow card for an off the ball incident on Madhu Mohana and was lucky not to be shown a second yellow for an argument with the match official.
The Malaysia U23 International then had a glorious opportunity on 64 minutes to pull another goal back for Negeri but he found Hyrulnizam hard to beat on the night.
The famous win at Paroi was sealed on 70 minutes when Shahdan Sulaiman, Shahril Ishak and Hariss Harun combined to perfection to silence the crowd. Shahdan picked up a loose ball in the middle of the park before spraying a pass out wide to Shahril on the left. Shahril then skipped past a defender, before playing a square ball that saw Shahdan dummied for Hariss at the far end of the pitch. Sensing that Shahdan continued his run, Hariss squared for his team mate to flick home from close range for his second goal in as many games.
Photo by BP Chua
Shukor Adan then pulled another goal back with an unstoppable header of Shahurain’s corner but it was a mere consolation for the hosts. Negeri’s misery was compounded when goalkeeper Farizal was shown a straight right card for lunge on Hariss Harun as the midfielder attempted to go through on goal. As Negeri had used up all their substitutions before this incident, second half substitute Mohd Zulfaizham had to stand in as goalkeeper for the last two minutes of the game. Zulfaizham palmed away the resulting free kick and that also proved to be the last piece of action in the game.
Negeri’s head coach Azraai Khor was appalled by the way that his back line performed this evening.
“Can you believe the kind of mistakes they make at this level?” he asked. “We conceded very easy goals, and the same thing happened again and again. Looks like after tonight I have to do something about my central defence, we need stronger characters.”
“It was tough for us to come back from three goals down but the team fought hard, but we did not have our best eleven to start with” Azraai told aXrosstheline.com
Skipper Shahril Ishak who now joins Francis Forkey Doe and Zairo Anuar Zalani on top of the Malaysia Super League’s goal scorers’ chart credited his team mates for the win, and urge his mates to keep reproducing the results of late in the league.
“This win is very big for the team and we’re on top of the table now and keeping up the pressure on Kelantan. We do well because we know the fans are behind us and we want to keep winning for them” Shahril said.
LionsXII are still unbeaten away from home, and are on top of the Malaysia Super League table with 27 points, one ahead of second placed Kelantan who have two games in hand. LionsXII will be looking to remain at the top of the table with a trip to Pasir Gudang to play Johor FC this weekend.
Catch the post-match interview with LionsXII Khairul Nizam and Coach Sundram below:
Negeri Sembilan: Farizal Marlias, Tengku Qayyum, Shahurain Abu Samah, Shukor Adan (Captain), Marian Farbak, Mahathevan (46” Qhairul Anuar Roslani), Rashid Mamud, Idris Abd Karim, Ahmad Shakir Ali (73” Khairul Ridzwan), Alif Shamsudin, Fiqri Azwan (80” Mohd Zulfaizham)
LionsXII: Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Isa Halim, Madhu Mohana, Shahdan Sulaiman (88” Firdaus Kasman), Hariss Harun, Shahril Ishak (Captain) (78” Shaiful Esah), Irwan Shah, Khairul Nizam (75” Agu Casmir), Safuwan Baharudin, Sevki Sha’ban, Yasir Hanapi
Fouls: Negeri Sembilan 12, LionsXII 14
Shots on target: Negeri Sembilan 4, LionsXII 8
Shots off target: Negeri Sembilan 8 LionsXII 4
Corners: Negeri Sembilan 6 LionsXII 5
Offside: Negeri Sembilan 0, LionsXII 3