Selangor FA 1-1 Lions XII
A hard earned point it was, but it still leaves much to ponder. Yet again, the LionsXII were outplayed in the 2nd half by their opponents. And again, the LionsXII failed to hold on to a lead. Captain Shahril Ishak opened the scoring with a brilliant individual goal, his first of the campaign, only for K.Gurasamy to outdo him with a wonderful volley from outside the box to level the game.
Hit by injuries and suspensions, Sundram had put out a makeshift team. Madhu Mohana made his first start on the right side of defence, while Raihan Rahman started at right midfield. Jumaat Jantan was played in an unfamiliar central midfield role alongside Isa Halim, with Sundram trying to make use of his high workrate in the middle of the park.
The LionsXII started the first half brilliantly, stringing passes together effortlessly. Much had been made about the team’s inability to pass the ball and their tendency to play the long ball, it seemed as if the whole team were out to prove something.
However, for all their passes, their final pass was lacking. The same can be said for Selangor too. Although they were enjoying more chances through counter attacks, their crosses from their wingers were off poor quality, meaning their front men never once benefitted despite being open in the penalty box.
Shahril Ishak though, was having a captain’s game. Leading by example, he was driving the team on everytime he has the ball. Almost every attacking move from LionsXII side was started by him. It was fitting that he will break the deadlock, and not only did he, but with a wonderful individual goal. A cross came in from the left from Shaiful Esah was going towards Shahril’s way, but he cleverly step aside. As the Selangor defence switched off, Raihan continued his run and manage to reach the ball before it went out. He found Shahril with a cut back, and Shahril took a wonderful first touch, taking the ball away from an on-rushing defender, and took another before slotting in a left footed finish.
Selangor with K.Gurasamy in particular, had other ideas though. A long ball over the top a minute later found Amri Yahyah, who held the ball brilliantly against Baihaikki and Hariss Harun. He then lay off the ball for Gurasamy, who produced a world class volley from just outside the box that sent the ball spinning into the top right corner, leaving Izwan Mahbud stranded. Hariss Harun though, can be blamed partially for the goal, as he didn’t close down Gurasamy despite being the nearest defender.
After a first half that promised so much, the 2nd half proved the opposite for the LionsXII. Selangor came out from the tunnel as the hungrier team. They were passing more fluently, splitting the LionsXII defence at will. However, once again, the final pass was still lacking, meaning that they never really threaten Izwan much. Izwan though, had to be commended. Sweeping every through ball that goes past Hariss and Baihaikki, he was outstanding, and will deem himself unlucky not to have kept a clean sheet.
While Sundram will have viewed as a point gain, he will need to come out with something to solve LionsXII’s mystery – disappearing in the 2nd half – and he will need to solve it fast. A match against 4th place Negeri Sembilan awaits on Saturday at the Jalan Besar Stadium, and any more underperforming by the LionsXII might just put Sundram’s job on the line.