Lions XII 0-1 Terengganu
Scorers: Francis Forkey Doe 78’
Photo courtesy of Nigel Chin
In-form Liberian striker Francis Forkey Doe was the hero for Terengganu, as his fourth goal in three games condemned the LionsXII to their second home defeat of the season.
Safuwan Baharudin returned from suspension to take the place of the injured Baihakki Khaizan and partnered Hariss Harun in defence, while Shaiful Esah came in for the suspended Irwan Shah on the left wing. Captain Shahril Ishak again led the line upfront as Agu Casmir watched on from the bench.
Roared on by a capacity home crowd, the LionsXII nearly took an early lead after six minutes. Shaiful nipped away from a challenge in the box to get to a loose ball, but flashed his left-footed volley just over. The winger was then clattered by his skipper Shahril, after the latter attempted an overhead kick which went wide, following Yasir Hanapi’s cross.
A Shaiful freekick from the left byline then found Hariss in front of goal, but the vice-captain couldn’t sort his feet out in time to shoot. The resulting counterattack saw Isa Halim halt Doe’s run with a well-timed tackle.
The floodlights on one of the towers then went out due to a fault. The action didn’t let up however, as play resumed after a short delay.
A well-worked move saw the impressive Yasir send in a low cross which Shahril dummied over for Firdaus Kasman, only for him to shoot just wide. Both sides then saw penalty appeals dismissed, as the half ended goalless, despite the LionsXII dominating most of the game.
Taufiq Rahmat came on for Shaiful in the second half, as Terengganu started to get into the game. Abdul Shukur Jusoh skidded an effort wide from range, and Doe blasted way over from a similar distance.
The stadium roared their approval when Yasir was replaced by Agu Casmir on the hour mark, as Shahril dropped to the right flank. The LionsXII were forced to make a third substitution ten minutes later, after Firdaus twisted his knee and was stretchered off. Raihan Rahman came on in his place, as Shahril moved to the hole behind Agu and Shahdan went to the right.
With a quarter of the game left, Agu then wasted a great opportunity to give his team the lead. Shahril played a lovely through ball to the striker, who fired over in the box when he should have done better.
That miss would prove to be costly.
Just three minutes later, a long ball over the top was not properly dealt with by Safuwan and Hariss. As both of them got into each other’s way while trying to clear it, Doe collected the loose ball and finished smartly across Izwan into the bottom corner.
The goal was a kick in the teeth for the home side, who had coped well with the striker before that. Terengganu started stroking the ball around as the LionsXII pumped long balls forward in search of a goal, and Agu glanced a Taufiq cross wide late on, as the away side held on for a narrow victory.
Terengganu coach Mat Zan Mat Aris was understandably all smiles at the post-match press conference:
“I think we controlled the game after the first 25 minutes. When Francis (Doe) got one chance, he scored a good goal; he’s a good striker.
“The LionsXII are experienced… their weakness is that when they attack, there is no support, and we took advantage of that.”
Meanwhile, LionsXII coach Sundram admitted that his team played below expectations.
“We had many young players who are raw… the injuries to key players also didn’t help at all.
“We were let down in the attacking third. We were sloppy, and made poor decisions when we had the ball. The players need games below their belt to improve their maturity levels, especially when we are playing against experienced teams.”
A downbeat Shahril also told OPOD that the team were disappointed with the result.
“We defended so well for the whole 90 minutes, except for the one mistake, and we paid the price. It will be a good learning experience for the younger players.”
Supporter Muhd Khalis summed up the game by saying: “It was a well-balanced game before the goal; the only difference between the teams tonight is that Terengganu took their chances, while the LionsXII did not.”
LionsXII: Izwan Mahbud, Juma’at Jantan, Safuwan Baharudin, Hariss Harun, Shakir Hamzah, Yasir Hanapi (Agu Casmir 58’), Firdaus Kasman (Raihan Rahman 72’), Isa Halim, Shaiful Esah (Taufiq Rahmat 45’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Shahril Ishak (c). Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Madhu Mohana, Shahir Hamzah, Sufian Anuar.
Terengganu: Sharbinee Allawee (c), Mazlizam Muhammad (Ahmad Nordin Alias 91’), Muslim Ahmad, Faizal Muhammad, Shamsul Kamal (Abdul Hadi Yahya 89’), Erison Da Silva, Abdul Shukur Jusoh, Ashari Samsudin, Abdul Manaf Mamat, Francis Forkey Doe. Unused subs: Sharmiza Yusoff, Reeshafiq Alwi, Ismail Faruqi, Joseph Kalang Tie, Hariri Safil.
You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tengkiat