Despite a spirited attacking performance, V.Sundramoorthy's LionsXII just couldn't put the ball in the back of the net and end their successful MSL campaign on a high note
"We created many chances, we had more crosses, more shots on goal, but the ball simply didn't want to go in."
Playing in front of a vocal home crowd at Jalan Besar Stadium, the LionsXII ended their maiden season in the Malaysian Super League with a 1-0 loss to neighbors Johor FC. The league runners' up dominated possession, however their profligacy saw them miss a plethora of chances.
Johor FC coach Sazali Saidun was happy with his team's effort, which meant that his team were saved from a potential relegation scrap, saying: "They knew what they had to do, and the added motivation of avoiding relegation helped."
The LionsXII coach refuted allegations that his team was complacent against their mid-table opponents, and cited bad luck as the reason for their loss, drawing parallels with Spain's loss to Switzerland in South Africa.
"It was just one of those games you see on TV," he said with a sheepish smile.
"They attacked and attacked, but at the end of the day, Switzerland scored the goal.
"It was unfortunate. We just needed to break the duck; if we had scored one goal, we could have 3 or 4 goals."
The coach spent much of the match agonizing as his side missed chance after chance to make the scores level.
Despite the loss, he was heartened by the overall growth of his team, and waxed lyrical over their incisive passing game.
"Every moment was exciting," he enthused over his team's play.
"When we started off the season it wasn't so promising, but we've ended with a very positive approach, and the boys are playing with confidence in their abilities.
"That's the reason we've managed to finish second in the table.
"They played well. I can't take anything away from the boys; they gave everything. They kept trying, kept putting the ball into the box. They played well, and deserved at least to get a draw."
Team captain Hariss Harun best exemplified the team's performance, as he ran from box-to-box, creating and taking chances, refusing to give up until the final whistle.
The Dazzler reserved special praise for attacking midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman, who showcased his versatility by playing in three different positions during the course of this one game.
"He's grown from strength to strength" said the coach with a note of pride in his voice.
"It's a credit to the boy, where he is now is due to his discipline and hard work.
"But in the end, we were lucky that this happened now, rather than the knockout stages of the Malaysia Cup, that is the most important time."