Football: Forget Malaysian FA Cup win, says LionsXII coach Fandi

LionsXII forward Sahil Suhaimi (left) sharing a joke with coach Fandi Ahmad during training at the Geylang field. The Singapore side were winless in their last two MSL games.
LionsXII forward Sahil Suhaimi (left) sharing a joke with coach Fandi Ahmad during training at the Geylang field. The Singapore side were winless in their last two MSL games.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Coach urges LionsXII players to get back to winning ways to resurrect ailing campaign

The air of triumph following the LionsXII's historic Malaysian FA Cup win is now stale.

The grim reality facing Fandi Ahmad's men now is that they are seventh in the 12-team Malaysia Super League (MSL) table, 10 points behind leaders Pahang.

This is why the coach wants his men to stop living in the past.

Striker Khairul Nizam revealed yesterday: "Coach Fandi spoke to all the players and told us we cannot think about the Cup anymore and that we have to show everyone that we can keep playing well and win more trophies."

Fandi's words have hit home, particularly with Sahil Suhaimi, the forward who netted the match-winning brace in the 3-1 win over Kelantan in the May 23 final.

"I have told him (Sahil) that he needs to work hard for the team and not for himself," said Fandi.

"I build a team around players who can show that they have teamwork. Sahil is a talented player but he needs to work even harder."

Sahil, who bore the brunt of criticism during the Singapore Under-23s' failure to make the semi-finals at last month's SEA Games, is eager for another chance to show what he is made of against Kelantan, whom the LionsXII host in an MSL match at Jalan Besar tonight.

The 22-year-old, who scored only once in four matches at the Games, said: "I had the high of scoring in the Cup final and the low during the Games but that is part and parcel of being a professional player.

"I have been working really hard in training, especially my finishing.

"And if I get the chance, I know I have to take it.

"I have to start afresh."

Without a win in their last two league matches, the LionsXII will be under pressure to eke out a victory tonight - a task that will be worryingly shouldered by an underperforming strikeforce.

Against Kelantan, Fandi is set to start with an attacking trio of Khairul Amri, Sahil and Khairul Nizam. The three forwards shared 11 goals between them on their road to victory in the FA Cup but have a dismal tally of only five goals in 13 league games to their names.

"We don't have any players who can score perhaps 10 goals for us," admitted the LionsXII coach.

"Our players have been sharing the load to score but we need a proven forward in this league.

"The performances have been encouraging but, when we get chances, we have to convert them to goals in order to win matches."

A piece of silverware has already been secured but, with a chance to be MSL champions still mathematically possible along with the Malaysia Cup still to come at the end of the league season, Fandi urged his charges to push on and not rest on their laurels.

He said: "The FA Cup win gave us a good morale boost but we need to get down to business again."

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LionsXII v Kelantan: StarHub Ch112/Ch205 & 76.25MHz, 8.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline 'FORGET FA CUP WIN, SAYS FANDI'. Print Edition | Subscribe