Malaysian Super League champions LionsXII extended their stay in the Malaysia Cup following a gutsy and spirited 2-1 win over Perak FA on Saturday at the Jalan Besar stadium.
Centre-back Safuwan Bahrudin was the savior for V.Sundramoorthy’s side as he swapped defensive duty and brought out his poacher instinct in the closing stages of the match to secure maximum points for the team.
LionsXII started the match at the bottom of Group D and needed a win to ensure that they keep their hopes of progression to the next round alive.
With skipper Shahril Ishak out of the match due to a hamstring injury, Hariss Harun took over stewardship of the team and was ever present in most of their attack.
The hosts had a relatively quiet first half before coming alive after the half-time interval, following tactical changes by Sundram at the start of the second half.
The ex-Singapore international brought on Zulfahmi Arifin for Aqhari Abdullah and the former repaid his coaches faith in him as the midfielder provided the perfect assist to his captain for the match opener.
Zulfahmi’s delivery from the right was met with a superb glancing header by Hariss, sending the ball to the top corner in the hour mark.
But the lead did not last long as the Seladangs equalised four minutes later as left-back Noor Hazrul drive home an unstoppable freekick from 25-yards.
While the visitors had plenty of chances to equalise, they were to go home empty handed as Safuwan netted the winner six minutes before the end.
The Singapore international thwarted two Perak defenders before chesting Izwan Mahbud’s long punt at the edge of the box – and capped it off by coolly sending the ball to the top corner from a tight angle.
With the result, LionsXII is currently third in the group with four points while Sarawak and Perak are leveled on seven points each, with Kedah rooted to the bottom with three points.
LionsXII will next host Sarawak on September 18 before they make the trip up north to face Kedah at the Darul Aman stadium three days later.
Photo courtesy of Alfie Lee (FAS)