Lions need at least six more wins

Six wins out of the remaining nine matches for the Malaysian Super League title.

To win the league in their debut season, LionsXII assistant coach Kadir Yahaya told The New Paper they will have to at least get close to last season's winning point tally of 56, achieved by Kelantan.

Currently, the Singaporean side are top of the table with 36 points from 17 games while the Red Warriors have 31 points from 14 games, ahead of their crunch tie on May 4.

Kadir said: "We need at least six wins out of our last nine games, especially two against Kelantan and Terengganu.

"We have to go out there and get the points rather than wait for the others to drop points."

The LionsXII are now a week into their 17-day break between league matches and, while the players get some well-deserved rest, the coaches remain hard at work, mulling over statistics and reviewing videos of the 17 matches played.

As a former Malaysia Cup and international right-back, Kadir is, not surprisingly, focusing on the defensive aspect of things.

Surely with the league's third-best defence, a stellar record of just 14 goals conceded in 17 games, he must be a happy man.

The 44-year-old agreed, only to a certain extent, and said: "You have to give our defenders credit. "We have had to deal with so many injuries and suspensions which affected our defence most. So in defence, there has been many changes.

Versatile

"Hariss (Harun) has to drop back from midfield to defence. Left-backs Shaiful (Esah) and Irwan (Shah) have played at right-back etc...

"But they have not once complained; instead they have performed well."

Perhaps it is his eye for detail, or his insatiable thirst for perfection because, surprisingly, he drops a bombshell and rates his defence a six out of 10.

Kadir explained: "It is good we have conceded less than a goal per game.

"But look at the 14 goals we conceded, four were from penalties, three were from free-kicks and another three were from corners.

"We have also conceded nine goals in the last 15 minutes of each half, three in the first half and six in the second.

"This means we have suffered from a lack of organisation and lapse of concentration.

"I also feel our defence can improve on their communication because they can get too quiet and conservative, so we must improve on all these aspects."

And Kadir believes that, with the fierce competition for a spot in the first XI, the LionsXII can only get better.

He said: "Out of 28 players, only Izwan (Mahbud), Shahir (Hamzah), Madhu (Mohana) and Sevki (Sha'ban) did not train today.

"They are on the road to recovery and, when we have our full complement of players, no one is assured of a place in the match-day 18.

"One mistake, or if you give anything less than 100 per cent, and you could be out.

"So, starting from Kelantan, every game is like a final if we want to win the league.

"The players know it and it is up to them to go for it."

The LionsXII will play a friendly against second-tier side Johor FA, whose technical director is Fandi Ahmad, at Larkin Stadium this Saturday.

LionsXII's remaining games

May 4 - Kelantan (A)

May 8 - Felda United (A)

May 12 - Kedah (H)

May 15 - Kuala Lumpur (A)

May 22 - Sarawak (H)

June 16 - Sabah (H)

June 19 - Terengganu (A)

July 10 - T-Team (A)

July 14 - Johor FC (H)


This article was first published in The New Paper.

Become a fan on Facebook