The LionsXII coach believes his side should have beaten Johor Darul Takzim, but the 1-1 draw means they are still firm favorites for the Malaysian Super League title
The LionsXII staged a late comeback against Johor Darul Takzim on Saturday evening to salvage a 1-1 draw, as they retained their four-point advantage over the latter at the top of the Malaysian Super League table (MSL) with three matches to go.
The visitors took the lead in the ninth minute through bulky Argentinian striker Leonel Nunez, but Safuwan Baharudin denied them a victory as he slammed home the equaliser seven minutes from the end.
Although the LionsXII are closing in on the title, coach V. Sundramoorthy is not about to pop the champagne just yet, as he remains focused on their next match against the Seladang.
“There are three games to go but I think Johor have an easier run out," he pointed out to the media at the post-match press conference.
"They will play against Felda [United], Negeri [Sembilan] and their last match is at home against Selangor.
“For us, we have Perak [FA] and the last game is in Kelantan. So the most important game for us now is against Perak.
“If we get the three points there, we will wrap up the title against Felda without having to wait for it [to be settled] against Kelantan."
Sundram admitted his side were not quick off the blocks, as the Southern Tigers had the upper hand in the first half.
“We started slowly and Johor pushed up higher and were very attacking as they were looking for the goals early on," he said.
“Though there were some mix-ups and we conceded a goal, but we got back onto our feet and towards the end of first half, we were making some passes and getting back into the game.
“In the second half, it belonged to us and the boys kept running and pressing for the equaliser and eventually we scored.”
With Darul Takzim still holding onto their one-goal lead at the hour mark, the former Singapore international made several changes as he brought on fresh legs upfront. Those moves paid off, and Sundram even believed his side could have won the game.
“When we crossed the 60-minute mark, we needed to put in attackers and look for the goals," he explained.
"Shafiq [Ghani] and [Khairul] Nizam were the perfect choices to come in.
“I believe we should [have] scored a second goal in the closing minutes of the match but we did not take our chance.; had Nizam scored the winner, it would be great.
“In the end, as long Johor do not beat us and they are four points away, it gives us the cushion to approach the next game [against Perak].
“It would be great for the team and football in Singapore [if we win the MSL].”
LionsXII's remaining MSL fixtures
June 25: Perak FA, away
July 2: Felda United, home
July 6: Kelantan FA, away