Madhu will stick closely to pal tonight

They are good friends, international team-mates and even room together while on duty with the Singapore national football team. But for 90 minutes tonight, Madhu Mohana wants to stick even closer to Shahril Ishak.

With a place in the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals at stake, LionsXII defender Madhu will be casting friendship aside as he aims to silence the scoring threat posed by Shahril, who skippers Malaysian Premier League side Johor Darul Takzim II.

Hard tackler Madhu insisted: "We are all professionals but tomorrow we wear different jerseys, and if I have to kick him, I will.

"Off the pitch, we are friends but, on it, no."

Shahril laughed when asked about coming up against his Lions room-mate but played down any advantage he might have.

He said: "It will be interesting but I'm just concentrating on my own strengths."

Madhu added: "Maybe knowing his style will help but it's not just me.

"The whole team know his strengths and weaknesses so it could make our job easier."

Madhu, whose game is on the rise after nailing down a starting spot in the national team, echoed LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad's sentiments that tonight's match is a must-win.

The team's last group tie is a daunting trip to Terengganu.

Said Madhu: "Our away form is not great this year.

"But we are unbeaten at home and we are confident we can do well.

"We just have to be patient till we get the goal."

Chua Siang Yee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2015, with the headline 'Madhu will stick closely to pal tonight'. Print Edition | Subscribe