Fandi Ahmad's charges will hope to return to winning ways after losing their last two games, but the fourth-placed Red Ants won't be easy oppositionThings have not gone the LionsXII's way in recent times, as Fandi Ahmad's new-look youthful side experience mixed fortunes in his debut campaign.
With seven games played in the Malaysia Super League so far, the defending champions sit ninth out of 12 teams with only two wins and eight points, although they are only five behind leaders Terengganu FA.
It's still early days and the LionsXII will be keen to make up that gap as soon as possible, having already lost their last two matches against Kelantan FA 2-1 at home and 3-1 to Sarawak FA away.
The performances in both of those games, with the exception of the first half against Kelantan, were concerning and perhaps reflected the inexperience of the side, as well as their failure to take their chances. The experiment to deploy centre-back Safuwan Baharudin upfront in Kuching did not appear to be a success, with the decision also ending up weakening the back-line.
The 22-year-old looks set to return to the heart of defence alongside Afiq Yunos, with Zulfahmi Arifin likely to come in ahead of them in midfield. The playmaker has not started any of the last three games and did not even come off the bench against Sarawak. His ability to pick a pass will come in handy, with Khairul Amri set to spearhead the attack again. The team's top scorer with four goals should be supported by the livewire pair of Gabriel Quak and Faris Ramli. However, captain Isa Halim looks set to miss the rest of the season due to surgery.
Fandi will hope the speed and intensity can unlock the PKNS defence, who boast the third-best record in the league. Centre-backs Hamka Hamzah and Helmi Remeli are a difficult duo to come up against, with the former also a threat at set-pieces. Interestingly, all eight of their goals have been scored by different players, which might indicate that they can be a threat from anywhere. The dangerous import pair of Patrick Wleh and Karlo Primorac will also need to be kept on a tight rein.
The Red Ants come into this game on the back of a 3-1 victory against T-Team, which took them up to their current fourth position. Wan Jamak Wan Hassan will be quietly confident of his team's chances at the Jalan Besar Stadium, while Fandi will bank on a determined resurgence to return to winning ways.