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The LionsXII coach hailed his team for a superb victory over ATM FA, which was achieved without two of their key centrebacks

By Khalis Rifhan

The LionsXII regained their spot at the top of the Malaysian Super League table after their inspiring 3-1 win over last season's Malaysia Cup finalists, ATM FA, at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.

LionsXII captain Shahril Ishak’s goal was sandwiched between Shahfiq Ghani’s brace, while Marlon Alex James's goal was a mere consolation for the Gladiators. 

Coach V. Sundramoorthy was full of smiles and praised his players for their efforts, despite playing without key central defenders Safuwan Baharudin and Baihakki Khaizan, who were both suspended for the match.

“I am on top of the world and I feel the boys have done well against a very good team like ATM and beat them," he delightedly said.

"I did not expect it with the two boys [Safuwan and Baihakki] out but the player sturned up and fought for every ball and scored goals. What else can I ask for?

“This is one of the best performances [from us]. They hit it right from the counter and [it] was a great first goal and after that the penalty was a confirmed penalty created by Nazrul [Nazari]."

Sundram had a selection nightmare 24 hours before the match, when Hariss Harun was rated doubtful for the tie after taking a knock during training. 

“Hariss was confirmed only in the warm-up as yesterday he was icing the whole day and turned up 50-50 for the game [today]," he revealed.

“We checked with him and footballers always have knocks and he felt okay, but the most important thing is that the players know it well themselves whether they are fit to play.” 

Touching on two-goal hero Shahfiq, Sundram mentioned that the striker is one of the key players for the team when they play at Jalan Besar. and describe how he managed to overcome the Gladiators.

“The boy is talented and especially in home games, we need him as he [has] got good freekick [and] corner-kick [abilities], and he can shoot the ball well," he said.

“We used our flankers and Shahril was the key to the first goal and he is instrumental in making passes and the boys had a heart to come back and defend and fight for every ball, and that is the reason we got something tonight.”

ATM will next host PKNS FC at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi on April 26, while the LionsXII will travel to Shah Alam a day later to take on the Red Giants of Selangor.