Photo Credit: FAS
If LionsXII head coach V. Sundramoorthy thought his side would be saved by the thunderstorm on Friday, the turn of events on Saturday proved to be the opposite.
They were trailing 1-0 to Selangor PKNS through a fourth minute header from Helmi Remeli at Petaling Jaya Stadium when the referee called off the original Malaysian FA Cup first round cup tie after 37 minutes after a march-in protest from Sundram.
The Malaysian football authorities retaliated at the Singaporeans through match commissioner Jalaluddin Khamaruddin ordered the visitors to field Friday’s starting line-up for the rescheduled match.
To compound the bizarreness of the situation, while the score was reset to nil-nil at kickoff, the yellow cards earned from both sides in the original match stood – a decision that would come back to haunt the Singaporeans later in the match.
Thus the Lions began the replay with nine men, with skipper Shahril Ishak and Faritz Hameed, along with Nazrul Nazari, having returned home immediately after the previous game.
That prompted Sundram to use up two substitutes, with Izzdin Shafiq and Faris Azienuddin coming on to make up the full eleven.
Compounding matters in the rematch played at bright sunshine on the same ground, LionsXII only resisted for 18 minutes before falling behind – again – through a free header from Fazuan Dzukifli from a header after Fazrul Nawaz had a goal ruled out for offside moments earlier.
The organisers’ insistence on keeping the cautions from Friday came back to bite the visitors when they were reduced to ten men after Raihan Rahman, already on a yellow the previous day, was shown a second yellow.
The match proceedings bordered to the point of ridicule when the game was paused for a few minutes – coincidentally on 37 minutes – for the Muslim prayers.
Despite determined efforts from the Singaporeans to force their way back into contention and coming close on several occasions, they failed to find the net and ended their cup campaign at the first hurdle at the final whistle.