Isa Halim raring to go in 2013 Malaysian Super League campaign

After playing a vital role in Singapore's successful AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 campaign, the midfield enforcer is looking to carry his form into the new MSL campaign with the LionsXII
By Khalis Rifhan & Kenneth Ho

Ahead of Wednesday's match against ATM FA, Isa Halim had words of caution for his team, majority of whom are youngsters playing in their debut season in the Malaysian Super League [MSL].

The midfield hardman singled out ATM's dangerman Hairuddin Omar as a threat, and also noted their opponents' strength in depth.

"I think he [Omar] is the key player; although he is not in the national team, I feel that he is one of the good players in the M-League. You know that his quality is always there and [so] for us we have to keep an eye on him, especially [when] you can see that they can compete with Kelantan, with Marlon James on the bench," the 26-year-old said.

"That is one of their strengths, they have a good reserve [team] on the bench.

"For us [this is] the first away game [and] we just have to get the ball rolling... especially for the youngsters we need them to feel more comfortable with the ball and not feel the pressure of playing away."

The LionsXII has completely revamped its squad, with majority of the members being under the age of 23 and only five players over the age limit so as to prepare a squad capable of challenging for honours in the end-of-year SEA Games.

However, Isa is adamant the LionsXII will work as a cohesive unit to show their team's worth in the 2013 MSL campaign.

"We have to set the goal as a team to be competitive in this M-league, [we] do not want to give the reason [that] although we are a young team, under-23 team, everyone can step on us," he emphasized.

"So we have to show them we are a good bunch of youngsters from Singapore that will compete and give them a run for their money."

In order to help ease the pressure on the youngsters and help them assimilate better into the squad, Isa revealed that the five senior members of the team have been talking to the youngsters and giving them advices.

However, he does believe that the young members will do just fine on the pitch.

"They are youngsters but they [have] got experiences combating in various age group and competitions," he said.

"You can see that sometimes they feel a bit shy with us. We just try to break the ice, do some things to make them more comfortable in the changing room and of course the pitch."

Despite acting as a role model for the youngsters, Isa refused to take his place for granted and insisted that he has to keep working hard to maintain his spot in the starting eleven.

LionsXII begin their second MSL campaign on Wednesday against ATM FA at 8.45pm.