Despite a nine goal hammering of Sabah just three days ago in the Malaysia Super League (MSL), the LionsXII have reasons to be wary of the threats that Terengganu posed when the two sides face off at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium on Tuesday evening.
After three previous meetings in all competitions against The Turtles, LionsXII have yet to register a win against the east coast side. Only two teams have denied the LionsXII points this season and coincidentally, both teams hailed from the east coast of the Peninsular with the other being 2011 MSL Champions, Kelantan. The LionsXII were edged out on two occasions by the odd goal (one in the league, another in the FA Cup), with another ending in a goalless draw (FA Cup).
The Singapore side faces a tricky task against Peter Butler’s side that brushed aside its local rival T-Team 3-0 in their previous round with much ease. This is the second time that Butler will lead a side out to play LionsXII, after he masterminded a come from behind win with Kelantan on the opening day of the current season at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Despite dropping massive points against Kedah and Kuala Lumpur, the LionsXII are on a five game unbeaten streak and they will be looking to defending that lead at the top, so as to secure a second place finish with the top spot now a distant dream.
LionsXII are 17 points ahead of Terengganu having played five games more than its challengers and the East Coast side could mathematically still overtake the Singapore outfit should they win Tuesday’s clash, alongside winning the five games in hand.
What make things more interesting in Tuesday night’s clash is the fact that Terengganu are unbeaten at home after nine league games, winning four and drawing five at their own fortress.
LionsXII went through a 90 minute training session under the scorching sun at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday afternoon before travelling to Kuala Terengganu in a routine build up to their away matches. Head coach V Sundramoorthy insists that his side will not be carried away with the massive nine goal win over the weekend and he has called for focus in the team to get the job, which could eventually seal second place in the league.
“The title race is not to our favor, all we can do now is to win the three games we’ve got left in the league, and see how Kelantan do in the remaining games,” Sundram told aXrosstheline.com
“We lost to a deflected goal the last time we played them, and we saw Hariss sent off. It is very important for the boys to keep their focus for the full 90 minutes,” added Sundram.
LionsXII travelled without Shakir Hamzah, Safuwan Baharudin (both unable to get clearance from National Service), Al-Faiz Ishak and Raihan Rahamn (on International duty with Singapore Under-22), Khairul Nizam and Shahril Ishak (both injured)
LionsXII probable first XI:
Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Juma’at Janta, Baihakki Khaizan, Sevki Sha’ban, Shaiful Esah, Isa Halim, Hariss Harun, Yasir Hanapi, Shahdan Sulaiman, Irwan Shah, Agu Casmir