3 more points enough to reach q-finals, says Fandi

LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad believes three points from their remaining three group games will seal his team's passage into the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals.

And he will be happy to take one point from their away clash at Kedah tonight, given the Darul Aman Stadium's status as a near-impregnable fortress.

The champions from the second-tier Malaysian Premier League have lost only twice from 14 matches in front of their fanatical support this season, most recently on Tuesday in a 2-3 defeat by Johor Darul Takzim II.

Worried about a backlash, Fandi's priority is to keep the LionsXII on top of Group A, with seven points collected from the three games so far.

Three points adrift, Kedah are tied for second with JDT II while Terengganu are bottom with a single point.

"We have to be even more focused because Kedah need the win so they are going to come at us and attack," Fandi said. "I told the boys to be smart, keep it tight and hit them on the counter-attacks."

To do just that, he is likely to keep faith with speedsters Sahil Suhaimi and Faris Ramli up front.

Fans will hope the duo can find the net, lessening the dependence on defender-turned-midfielder Safuwan Baharudin, who has scored late winners in the previous two matches.

However, echoing his coach's mentality, Faris is also happy to track back as part of the LionsXII's defensive rearguard, a trademark of the V. Sundramoorthy-led outfit who won the Malaysian Super League in 2013.

The winger said: "We know what Kedah are capable of. They will exploit any space we give them so we need to close them down quickly and not let them play their game."

Sahil added: "They have a few players who are fast and powerful. We must focus on keeping the ball and frustrate them."

As with most Malaysian clubs, the danger man is a burly foreign striker which, in Kedah's case, is the muscular 1.82m-tall Nigerian forward Chidi Edeh.

Fandi said: "He's very 'garang' (Malay for daring), fights for every ball, a real menace to defenders.

"We have made a decent start to the Cup but I'm still not satisfied.

"This will be our toughest test so far. If we get something out of it, it will be a great boost for the rest of the tournament."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2015, with the headline '3 more points enough to reach q-finals, says Fandi'. Print Edition | Subscribe