Football: LionsXII need one point in Kuala Terengganu cauldron to reach Malaysia Cup q-finals

Shahdan Sulaiman's goal in a 1-0 win against Johor Darul Takzim II on Oct 17 put the LionsXII on top of Group A with 10 points. A draw tonight against Terengganu will be enough to seal qualification to the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Cup.
Shahdan Sulaiman's goal in a 1-0 win against Johor Darul Takzim II on Oct 17 put the LionsXII on top of Group A with 10 points. A draw tonight against Terengganu will be enough to seal qualification to the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Cup.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

One point in their final group match is all the LionsXII need to qualify for the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals as Group A winners. But to get that point, they face a daunting visit to Kuala Terengganu, where they have lost three straight games.

Tonight's match will take place at the 15,000-capacity Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium, which is different from the Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin arena, scene of a fan riot when the two teams clashed in a Malaysian FA Cup match on May 16.

However, the same group of fanatical Terengganu supporters are expected to be present.

No wonder coach Fandi Ahmad is exhorting his charges to be extra disciplined and not take the foot off the pedal in their quest to advance out of the group stage.

"It'll be a hostile environment - it's like a Cup final," he warned.

"But we are prepared for that. We have played them four times already this season and our guys have learnt how to handle them.

"We have to fight, be disciplined and stay compact. It's important to not give away unnecessary free kicks so that we don't jeopardise our own chances to qualify."

The LionsXII sit atop Group A with 10 points, three ahead of Kedah and Terengganu, who are tied on seven points. Even if Fandi's men lose by a single goal, it will still be enough to ensure qualification, though not necessarily as group leaders.

If they lose by more than a goal, their hopes of advancing will depend on the result of the other Group A match between Kedah and Johor Darul Takzim II.

If they win the group, they will face the Group D runners-up, allowing them the likelihood of avoiding defending champions Pahang in the quarter-finals.

The Singaporean outfit were 3-2 victors when they met Terengganu at Jalan Besar on Sept 26, and defender Madhu Mohana believes defence will be key tonight.

He said: "Terengganu will definitely go all out to beat us. We have to stick together as a team, be compact and help one another.

"We are not guaranteed a spot (in the quarter-finals) yet and we do not want our hopes to be decided by Johor or Kedah. We have to get the job done here in Terengganu."

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline 'LionsXII need one point in Kuala Terengganu cauldron'. Print Edition | Subscribe