ATM coach B Sathianathan claims tie is 'still open'

The former Malaysia national team coach believes the tie is still very much alive despite getting the all-important away goal in the 1-1 draw at Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
     By Kenneth Tan

As his side makes their way back to Petaling Jaya, ATM coach B Sathianathan should be reflecting on a fruitful trip to Singapore which saw them claim a useful away goal in a one-all draw against the LionsXII last night.

His side now look to be favorites to make the final on October 20, but the former Malaysian national team coach refused to entertain the notion that his side already have one foot in the final. 

"The away goal is indeed a bonus, but it's still very open and there's a lot ot play for. If Lions XII score [in the second leg], it'll be back to square one," claimed Sathianathan at the post-match press conference.

"I don't speak about the final first as they [LionsXII] are a good side who play to their strengths - they have a strong defence which do not open up easily like other teams.

"We should not be overconfident, as their away record is good."
In fact, his side could have went home with an even bigger advantage if they did not concede the equaliser nine minutes from time. 

"It's a very soft goal to concede, although the Lions XII is good on set pieces," bemoaned Sathianathan.

"I had to take Marlon [James] off because he was on a yellow and I need him for the second leg. The guy who replaced him messed up the midfield instead of keeping the ball, [and] that's how we conceded the freekick [which led to the goal].

"It's a learning curve for us - it's unlucky for us as other than a couple of shots outside the box and some nice movement, the Lions XII did not trouble us."

However, he was a happy man when asked about his star striker Marlon James' contribution. 

"On this kind of ground, even Pele [will] find it difficult if he never trains on it!" said a pleased Sathianathan. "He had one chance and he took it, [and] that was with Baihakki [Khaizan] following him all the way."

"In football, the most important thing is to get the goals and he did it," he added. 

With the second leg to be played at home next Thursday, the 54-year-old revealed his side will rest for one-and-a-half days, as the synthetic turf 'took a toll' on the players' condition.