ALOR SETAR — Teeming with life in front of a 32,000-capacity crowd, the LIONSXII filled their hearts with determination and resilience as they showed character to hand hosts Kedah a 1-3 loss at Darul Aman Stadium.
Aggressiveness and attacking football were on the minds of coach V. Sundramoorthy as he wanted the team to get things going and not sit back and wait for trouble. Five yellow cards were flashed throughout the ninety minutes solely for the LIONSXII.
The LIONSXII started brightly as visitors, with a well-directed low-drive 3 minutes on the clock from midfielder Hafiz Sujad finding its way to winger Faris Ramli whose shot ricochet off the crossbar. A mistake next by Fazli saw Hariss Harun intercepting the penalty box and cut back for Shahfiq Ghani. Shahfiq laid it for Faris Ramli but the shot went straight into’s Abdul Hadi’s gloves.
The first goal and opportunity for the LIONSXII struck in the 23rd minute, with Faris Ramli and Shahfiq Ghani exchanging one-touch football. Faris sprang the return down the left flank and floated a cross onto the head of Hariss which went into the corner, a 1-0 lead for the Singaporean outfit.
Moments later, Hafiz sidestepped three defenders and found space in the defence to go one-on-one with Abdul Hadi but a slightest from him with his leg stopped the LIONSXII from adding a second to the tally. Safuwan Baharudin also had a glorious chance to make it 2-0, however, his free-kick sailed just over the woodwork.
At 36th minute, Hafiz Sujad was fouled on the left wing with a brilliance of play from the LIONSXII. Efforts finally paid off as he curled one to the far post and Safuwan headed back in, before towering defender Baihakki Khaizan smashed it home.
The Canaries pulled one back though through striker Alen Guc who got the better of Madhu Mohana and nodded home the rebound of goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, reducing the deficit to a goal.
With Kedah rushing things in the second half, LIONSXII found their third goal thanks to man-of-the-match Hafiz Sujad. Hafiz poked through the middle and cast a stunning shot beyond the reach of custodian Abdul Hadi to secure the final eight berth for the LIONSXII.
In the other Group D fixture, Malaysian Premier League champions Sarawak thrashed Malaysian Super League side Perak 6-1 and will face Pahang in the next encounter.
Runners-up LIONSXII will play Group A leaders Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) next on 26th September, Thursday, at the Jalan Besar Stadium in the first-legged quarter-final match of the 2013 Malaysia Cup. It will not be played on the 28th due to the Sultan of Selangor Cup happening on that day which will see an S.League Selection take on traditional rivals Selangor. V. Sundramoorthy is also involved in the veteran game.
Tickets for the clash will go on sale soon, do stay tuned for more information! Thank you fans for your formidable support, it’s great and the LIONSXII hope to bring you better football. Continue to root for them as they go for the double!