SINGAPORE, 24 December 2011: After two weeks of intense training, the LIONSXII set out for their first test in the form of a training match against Malaysian side, Johor FA at Jalan Besar Stadium this evening.
Both teams started the match slow as the Johor FA side looked to familiarise themselves with the new environment and LIONSXII putting in place their game plan of passing the ball on the ground, with Agu Casmir and Shahril Ishak leading the attack.
However, it was the visitors who broke the dead lock in the 15th minute through a Munir Amran goal and extended their lead with midfielder Fauzzi Kassim just three minutes later.
The LIONSXII were not to be outdone as they pushed to get back into the game and they did just that with Isa Halim scoring the first goal for his team in the 30th minute.
Captain Shahril Ishak equalised in the 39th minute with a simple tap in after forward Agu Casmir’s shot was blocked by Johor FA custodian Sasikumar Kishor after some fine work down the left.
Baihakki Khaizan got close to getting his name on the score sheet but his header missed the target by mere inches.
The visitors took the lead again with four minutes left on the clock in the first-half as Fauzzi Kassim scored his second goal of the night and Johor FA’s third in the match.
The match then went into the break with Johor FA leading by one goal. The second half saw the entire LIONSXII starting eleven being substituted with the likes of Hariss Harun and Firdaus Kasman taking to the field.
The LIONSXII surged forward for the equalizer but the Johor FA defensive four proved hard to beat with each attacking move they launched. The match then saw some impressive set pieces however none managed to end up at the back of the net.
With time running down the clock, The LIONSXII had the final shot of the game which came off Hariss’ head but it missed the target by a mile. The match came to an end with the scoreboard reading, LIONSXII 2-3 Johor FA.
Speaking right after the match, LIONSXII head coach V.Sundramoorthy said “ It was a good competitive match for a start. This is a very good preparation for the upcoming season. We have identified areas that we have to work on and we will continue to fine tune the squad accordingly.”
“Coach Sundram was encouraging us to go out there and play the ball on the ground. While we managed to do that, there were occasions where we could have done better but nevertheless, this was a good first friendly match for this new team to put what we have learned in training on the pitch. As for the preseason, it has been great so far with a lot of familiar faces in the squad and the team spirit is good. Furthermore, Coach Sundram and Kadir have been putting us through the pieces which I am sure, will pay off when the season starts.” said LIONSXII vice-captain Hariss Harun.
Johor FA head coach K. Sukumaran shared with us his thoughts on the match and he said “Although we won tonight, there is a lot to be done with the team as we are in the process of rebuilding the squad. I think basically what went right for us tonight was the scoring and also defending, the area we have to work on is our midfield as I feel we lost out to the LIONSXII in midfield. The LIONSXII have a good set of players and they just need more time together before they start clicking.”
Final Score: LIONSXII 2-3 Johor FA
First-half starting Line-up for LIONSXII: Izwan Mahbud, Fazli Ayob, Shaiful Eash, Isa Halim, Baihakki Kaizan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Agu Casmir, Shahril Ishak (C), Safuwan Baharudin, Juma’at Jantan, Yasir Hanapi,
Second-half starting line-up for LIONSXII: Madhu Mohana, Taufiq Rahmat, Hariss Harun (C), Raihan Rahman, Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Irwan Shah, Khairul Nizam, Sevki Sha’ban, Firdaus Kasman, Sufian Anuar, Safirul Sulaiman
Starting Line-up for Johor FA: Sasikumar Kishor (Amro Syafiq 75’), Nazrulerwan Makmor (C) (Ahmad Tharmini 51’), Ashadi Yusoff, Ahmad Syamim, Nurfitah Shah (Jeremy Danker 62’), Fauzzi Kassim (Zaidi Ahmad 84’), Munir Amran (Yusri Abas 62’), Hazsyafiq Hamzah, Tuah Iskandar (Afiq Amin 85’), Fazly Mazlan (Faizal Mansor 49’), Sathiya Kandasamy