|FROM JALAN BESAR STADIUM
By Khalis Rifhan
The LionsXII maintained their perfect record on home soil as they crushed Pahang FA 3-0 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday evening.
Former Courts Young Lions player Faris Ramli scored in the first half, while Singapore internationals Safuwan Bahrudin and Fazrul Nawaz found the back of the net in the second half to lead the home side to an impressive victory.
Coach V.Sundramoorthy made several tactical changes in his starting line-up with Hafiz Sujad slotting at left back and debutant Zulfahmi Arifin partnering Isa Halim in the centre of the field behind captain Shahril Ishak.
The fans were on their feet in the 14th minute as Shahril beat defender Razman Roslan at the edge of the box with his footwork before threading the ball to Irwan, who was lurking at the byline.
The cross fell to Faris, who made no mistake with his second attempt after his initial strike was blocked at the goal line.
Despite conceding early, Pahang did not let their heads down as they came back strongly and tested LionsXII goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud on several occasions.
Both Faizol Hussin and Amirul Hadi tested Izwan from distance midway through the first half, but there was no real threat from their shots.
Six minutes before the break, the Tok Gajah went on a counter through Fauzi and the former Shahzan Muda player played a sublime through ball to winger R.Gopinathan, whose attempted curler went awfully wide much to the delight of the home fans.
The hosts then grabbed their second of the night five minutes after the hour mark, as Safuwan rose above the rest to connect with the ball at the far post from a Shahfiq Ghani freekick.
The match was put beyond the visitors’ reach 13 minutes from time as Fazrul headed in the third from three yards out after Safuwan had cleverly knocked the ball back across from a corner.
The LionsXII will next travel to Larkin Stadium on February 19 to face star-studded Johor Darul Takzim, who will be led by former Singapore international Fandi Ahmad.