Match Breakdown: Singapore LionsXII vs. Kelantan
A few thoughts on the LionsXII performance against defending Malaysian champions Kelantan in their MSL season opener
AFP - ROSLAN RAHMAN
Izwan Mahbud made an excellent save in the 13th minute after a defensive error left Kelantan with a good shot on goal. His play seems to continue to improve, especially after his brave play against Malaysia during the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers. Mahbud made another save after a decent free kick by Kelantan in the 21st minute. Mahbud also made excellent kicks after gaining possession, finding open midfielders and forwards.
Mahbud was powerless to stop the late strike from Kelantan in the first half. He made another excellent save in the 64th minute, but then had bad clearance in the 75th minute, which resulted in another shot that he needed to save. Unfortunately, Mahbud also had the bad luck of giving up a penalty on a very dubious decision, with replays showing that Mahbud making barely any contact with the attacking player.
The LionsXII defense showed signs of problems with pacey players. While they did a good job of rotating toward the ball in the first half, their defence of the flanks left something to be desired. Though the LionsXII had spirited defending, fatigue caught up to them. Malaysia's attack on the flanks and better ball control in the second half gave Singapore defence fits, and nearly caused a few goals that Izwan Mahbud had to save.
Baihakki Khaizan was a bright spot for the defence though, and also scored the opening goal of the game. Unfortunately, a terrible defensive sequence gave up a goal to Kelantan just before injury time began, deflating both the crowd and the team.
Kelentan's attackers seemed more settled in the second half, and caused Singapore's defenders a number of problems. Communication needs to improve on the pitch as the league progresses, or they may be more silly mistakes.
The LionsXII midfielders had a few good balls at the start, drawing Kelantan to one side and trying to whip it across to open forwards. There were many good crosses but that one killer pass was missing on most possessions. Even when passes from midfield found their target, the strikers didn't make Kelantan pay with good shots. Shahril Ishak had a good bit of control after a nice cross, but his low shot missed just wide before the half hour mark. Hariss Harun took a decent shot when he saw the Kelantan defence having a quiet moment, but it went straight at the keeper.
The forwards could have gotten in better position for some chances in the first 10 minutes. Agu Casmir's striking was wayward, and he panicked a little when he had a bit of space to work with. Agu Casmir did not always seem to be putting himself into good position and his decisions were a bit rushed when he did get the ball. Agu Casmir's head seemed to be a magnet for Izwan Mahbud's goal kicks, but he needed to do more with the ball. He was also caught offside quite a few times.
Yasir Hanapi missed the first real Singapore chance of the match which floated slightly over the cross bar. It was a difficult shot, and can't blame him for missing. He saw the keeper off his line and took a chance.
Singapore's high balls are met a fair bit of success, and set pieces were Singapore's bread and butter during the game. However, they need a plan B when opponents adjust and neutralize their target men. Singapore's ground passing also looked a bit vulnerable, and this prevented Shahril Ishak from performing at his best.
It was a relatively quiet game from both Shahril Ishak and Hariss Harun, and the LionsXII will need to see them contribute more to find success in the Malaysian Super League.
The fans also need to show more spirit during moments of adversity. They were too quiet at the start of the second half, and nothing will fire up opponents more than silencing the home crowd. The silence in the second half isn't going to help a home team, as they feed off the energy of the fans.
There's absolutely no shame in losing against the defending champions, especially since it can be legitimately argued that the winning goal from the dubious penalty was undeserved. The LionsXII team does have potential, but coach Sundram has his work cut out for him. Now that the first game jitters are out of the way, Sundram's squad has every chance of gelling better as a unit, and then they may start making some noise. There are definitely some holes to plug, but this is a young team, so patience should be shown to them.
Remember, it's been a long time since the "Dream Team". That team was also one of the greatest that the competition has ever seen, so it's unfair at this time to compare this young unit to the likes of Fandi Ahmad,
and they should be given a little leeway before final judgement is passed.
What did you think of Singapore's performance in the MSL season opener? What do you think they need to improve? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Im very dissapointed...was hopin that Lions will win the match and show Malaysian that we can do it..
And wat's up with only 1 striker...Lions missed out alot of chances coz only Agu is the striker..I noe that Lions wanna defend but come on..every long strikes near the goal post and only Agu to defend himself with other kelantan players before other lions join in...but its all too late coz Agu lost the ball to oppositions..At least 2 strikers ah..
What a dissapointment..Buck up guys...dun dissapoint ur fans and make ur country SINGAPORE proud!!!
i was very surprise at how the Singapore team played yesterday. overall the only person who make a difference was the goal keeper. from the defense/ midfield/ strikers was very poor. what kind of football are we playing, the players cant control the ball and have no better idea what to do with the ball. just disappointing overall.
1st half pretty good. Nice tidy passing and controlled possession football. None of the hopeful long ball forward looking for Agu and hoping for the best. Very encouraging.
2nd half was all shambolic and things headed south. It was pretty obvious the Lions do not have the stamina and pace to last a tidy 90 minutes game.
Also a big problem for Sundram as the front three supposedly in support of Agu were practically missing for the entire game. With no creativity, no vision, no support, Agu was practically left isolated. Scoring goals will be a big problem for the Lions.
It was the first match for the Lion team and I think they're playing very good. Player's must learn from the mistake that they've make in the game and play better in theirs following matches. The referee had make a wrong decision on the penalty and he can over rule the assistant referee decision if he think it's a penalty for Kelantan. I wish the LION can play better and bring the good result to the fan in the next game.