MALAYSIA SUPER LEAGUE
Although unbeatable at home, the LionsXII's travel sickness in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) struck again yesterday evening as Fandi Ahmad's men faltered 4-2 to Terengganu.
Although depleted in attack with injuries to key players Faris Ramli and Khairul Amri, it was careless defending by the Singapore outfit that was eagerly wolfed down by the hungry hosts in Kuala Terengganu's Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium.
Fandi said after the six-goal thriller: "We are disappointed because we came here to get at least a point.
"But Terengganu played well and took their chances well, so credit to them. We were very lethargic and started very poorly and fatigue definitely played a part today."
The defeat meant that the LionsXII have now managed to win only one of their nine away matches, with three draws and five defeats.
That sole victory came against Sime Darby, who prop the 12-team MSL table, in May.
In six of their eight away matches, the LionsXII's opponents had scored in the first half.
And of the 15 goals they had conceded on the road, eight came in the opening 30 minutes.
Against Terengganu, it was their failure to settle down swiftly that cost Fandi's men.
The hosts netted twice in the opening half hour and the visitors had been lucky to not have fallen further behind as goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud and defender Zulfahmi Arifin came to the LionsXII's rescue.
Terengganu took the lead as early as the seventh minute when Gustavo Lopez's free kick was parried by Izwan. The backline was guilty of ball watching as midfielder Helmi Remeli reacted first to fire the ball into an empty net.
The LionsXII equalised in the 25th minute, when Hafiz Abu Sujad's corner was met by the head of Madhu Mohana.
But in the next attack, Terengganu regained the lead when, once again, the LionsXII defence was slow to clear the danger.
That allowed Canadian-born Issey Nakajima-Farran to sweep the ball into the net in the 26th minute.
Nakajima-Farran, who previously played in the S-League with Albirex Niigata and the Young Lions, then scored his second of the night in the second half. The forward raced clear to receive a lofted ball from midfield and slotted home unchallenged in the 52nd minute.
Hafiz did give his side a lifeline in the 53rd minute when the versatile midfielder fired a rocket that bulged the net from just inside the area to reduce the deficit.
Malaysian international Norshahrul Idlan then sealed victory in the 57th minute.
He dribbled past three defenders and exchanged passes with Ismail Faruqi before scoring.
The LionsXII will next welcome league leaders Pahang to the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.
But as they make their journey back home after the hapless showing last night, they will have to figure out how to leave their dire defensive display behind in Kuala Terengganu. This is especially if they are to ensure that their unbeaten run at home continues.