Fandi's men lose top spot

Insipid display sinks them in Alor Star, they could drop to 3rd in group if JDT II win today


Kedah 2
LionsXII 0

This time, there were no last-minute heroics or inspired substitutions to rescue the LionsXII in the Malaysia Cup.

Fandi Ahmad's footballers got what they deserved from an insipid display at a raucous Darul Aman Stadium, falling 0-2 to Kedah and surrendering top spot in Group A.

Set up defensively to earn a precious away point, the visitors barely got out of their own half, losing possession sloppily and thumping aimless long balls up front.

The LionsXII took 54 minutes to muster their first shot on target, a 30-metre piledriver from lone striker Khairul Amri which Kedah's third-choice goalkeeper Muhd Firdaus dealt with easily.

By then, they were already trailing by a goal in front of more than 30,000 fans. Barely two minutes after the break, Brazilian playmaker Sandro da Silva's free kick was tipped onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud. Chidi Edeh, unmarked in front of goal, gleefully nodded in the rebound.

The Nigerian striker later hit the bar with another header while Izwan was forced into several parries to keep his side in the game.

But the Singapore international could do nothing to deny Chidi in the 77th minute. Latching onto Sandro's slide-rule pass, he slotted home after beating a poorly-executed offside trap.

Even the second-half introduction of nippy forwards Sahil Suhaimi and Christopher van Huizen failed to inspire the LionsXII.

The danger signs were there early on. Sandro, given the freedom to drift between the lines, had three shots just off the mark inside the opening 10 minutes.

Refereeing decisions also went against Fandi's men.

A reckless two-footed lunge by Shafizan Hashim on LionsXII right-back Faritz Hameed warranted only a yellow card for the defender late in the first half.

In the dying minutes, midfielder Safuwan Baharudin was tugged inside the Kedah penalty box. But the referee played the advantage and the ball was scrambled off the line.

More bad news awaits: The Singapore outfit, on seven points from four games, will drop to third in the group if Johor Darul Takzim II (four points) beat Terengganu at home tonight. Kedah lead the four-team Group A with seven points but enjoy a superior goal difference.

Fandi's troops will have the upcoming international break to reflect on their performance.

They next host JDT II on Oct 17.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline 'FANDI'S MEN LOSE TOP SPOT'. Print Edition | Subscribe