With the Malaysian Super League (MSL) title in the bag, LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy decided to give his reserves a run out in their last league match against Kelantan and it was no surprise that the visitors went away empty-handed from the Sultan Muhamad IV Stadium in Kota Bharu.
Sundram’s young charges started the match on the wrong foot and went a goal down as early as the fifth minute after coming under immense pressure by Bojan Hodak’s side in the opening stages of the match. ;
Captain Shahril Ishak and Hariss Harun were rested for the match while Fazrul Nawaz, Isa Halim and Izwan Mahbud started on the bench.
Less than a minute into the game, the Red Warriors surged forward but LionsXII custodian Khairulhin Khalid superbly dashed off his line to gather the ball before Ahmad Fakri could get to it. ;
In the fourth minute, captain Badri Radzi cleverly thwarted the LionsXII offside trap and released Fakri in the penalty box, but the latter‘s attempt was blocked off the line by Madhu Mohana and away for a corner.
The Red Warriors took the lead from the ensuing corner as Khairulhin was caught flapping in the air and allowed Badri’s kick to float straight into the back of the net in the fifth minute. ;
But the visitors kept their nerves in check after the goal and played much better in the last 10 minutes of the first half with a series of slick passes along the flank, although they were still lacking the cutting edge upfront to pose any real threat.
The best chance of the first half for the MSL champions came on the half hour mark when Shahfiq Ghani’s freekick ricocheted off the bar from 30 yards.
It was 2-0 to the recently-crowned FA Cup champions 13 minutes after the half-time interval.
Badri played a quick freekick from the halfway line, which eluded Baihakki Khaizan at the edge of the box and Dickson Nwakaeme needed no invitation to slam the ball into the bottom corner. ;
With the result, Kelantan ended their MSL season in fourth position and will be seeded for the Malaysia Cup draw.
Meanwhile, the LionsXII lead the final standings by three points over second-placed Selangor who were held to a 1-1 draw by Johor Darul Takzim. The latter two teams are equal on 40 points, but the Red Giants have a better goal difference than the Southern Tigers.
Photo taken by: Khalis Rifhan