Football: LionsXII clinch Malaysian FA Cup after 3-1 victory over Kelantan

 Lions XII fans arriving for the Malaysia FA Cup final 2015 between Kelantan and LionsXII, at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on May 23, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN 
 Lions XII fans arriving for the Malaysia FA Cup final 2015 between Kelantan and LionsXII, at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on May 23, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN 
Kelantan fans holding a home made FA cup trophy at the Malaysia FA Cup final 2015 between the Kelantan FA and LionsXII held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on May 23, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
Kelantan fans holding a home made FA cup trophy at the Malaysia FA Cup final 2015 between the Kelantan FA and LionsXII held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on May 23, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
LionsXII striker Sahil Suhaimi is mobbed by teammates after scoring against Kelantan in the Malaysian FA Cup final. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
LionsXII striker Sahil Suhaimi is mobbed by teammates after scoring against Kelantan in the Malaysian FA Cup final. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
LionsXII striker Sahil Suhaimi celebrating after scoring against Kelantan in the Malaysian FA Cup final. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
LionsXII striker Sahil Suhaimi celebrating after scoring against Kelantan in the Malaysian FA Cup final. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
LionsXII celebrating their goal against Kelantan  during the FA Cup Final at the Bukit Jalil National stadium on May 23, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN 
LionsXII celebrating their goal against Kelantan  during the FA Cup Final at the Bukit Jalil National stadium on May 23, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN 
LionsXII midfielder Faris Ramli celebrating his 7th minute goal against Kelantan in the FA Cup Final at the Bukit Jalil National stadium on May 23, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
LionsXII midfielder Faris Ramli celebrating his 7th minute goal against Kelantan in the FA Cup Final at the Bukit Jalil National stadium on May 23, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
The LionsXII team celebrating with the Malaysian FA Cup. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
The LionsXII team celebrating with the Malaysian FA Cup. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
The LionsXII players celebrating with the Malaysian FA Cup after their 3-1 victory over Kelantan. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN
The LionsXII players celebrating with the Malaysian FA Cup after their 3-1 victory over Kelantan. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

THE SEA Games-bound duo of Faris Ramli and Sahil Suhaimi led the LionsXII to a stunning Malaysian FA Cup triumph in front of 85,000 fans at the Bukit Jalil Stadium on Saturday evening.

Substitute Sahil's 81st-minute strike and stoppage-time penalty, coming after Faris' sixth-minute opener, gave the Singapore outfit a hard-fought 3-1 win over Kelantan, who dominated for large parts of the final.

The LionsXII are the first foreign team to lift the FA Cup. It also marks the first time in 21 years that a Singapore side has won a Cup competition in Malaysia.

Fandi Ahmad's troops defended valiantly to repel their opponents' incessant attacks. Goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud was in top form, twice denying Colombian striker Erwin Carrillo with his feet, along with a string of acrobatic saves.

Kelantan, winners of the domestic Treble in 2012, paid the price for a sloppy start when right-back Nik Shahrul Azim failed to track Faris' diagonal run. That was all the time and space the speedster needed, latching onto Izzdin Shafiq's defence-splitting pass to round the goalkeeper and slot into an empty net.

 

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Congrats to the LionsXII on our convincing 3-1 victory over Kelantan! A big thank you to the team and supporters for...

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, 23 May 2015

Kelantan levelled the score just past the hour mark. On the end of Brazilian Gilmar's headed flick, forward Wan Zack Haikal nudged the ball past a flailing Izwan to cap off a sleek passing move.

But it was the Sahil show thereafter. For his first goal, the nippy forward stole the ball from the centre circle, blitzed past two markers, and slammed home into the bottom corner.

After being felled in the box in injury time, the 22-year-old got up to stroke in the penalty. Cue wild celebrations from the LionsXII bench, 6,000 travelling fans, and thousands more back in Singapore.

nsanjay@sph.com.sg