The LionsXII coach was disappointed but believes his players will come back stronger while Kelantan's Bojan Hodak saw the victory as a gateway to further success
LionsXII coach V. Sundramoorthy was close to conceding any title ambitions for his team after they were comprehensively defeated 3-0 by Kelantan FA, but is still optimistic that his players will bounce back from the result.
In an exclusive interview with Goal.com Singapore before the match, Sundram had expressed his confidence in his side in gaining at least a point.
But a combination of some lacklustre play in the second half and excellent performances from the Kelantan players in the final third ensured the Lions left the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium empty-handed.
“As the match went on the boys got more tired,” said Sundram.
“But we know that Kelantan is always [performs well] in the last 20 minutes of a game, and they showed it once again.”
The coach also praised the Kelantan players for their top-drawer performances in the match.
“It was one of those days where [the Kelantan players] lifted their game, because they knew it was important to win the game.”
Sundram also believes that a lack of match practice had disrupted their form.
“A 17-day break had made us lose our momentum,” he said. “We now have to pick [ourselves] up and move in a new direction.”
After the match, the Lions now lead Kelantan by a slender two-point margin albeit having played three games more, and Sundram believes that given the current form of Kelantan that this lead will soon reverse itself.
“With their current form, they will definitely catch up with us,” he said.
For Kelantan coach Bojan Hodak, the victory was not just morale-boosting, but also positioned his team as the best side in Malaysia.
“These three points put us in a good position to win everything,” said Hodak.
Kelantan will compete in the round of 16 in the AFC Cup, as well as the finals of the Malaysia FA Cup.
Hodak also believed that his side were fitter than the Lions and forced them into committing errors as the game wore on and they lost their stamina and tactical discipline.
“[The LionsXII] were much more open in the second half,” he claimed.
Overall, Hodak expressed his delight at the result, although he will now have to turn his attention to the other competitions his side are participating in.
“I am always confident on winning the league,” he said, “But now I need to focus on other matches.”