A 90th minute penalty earned Kedah a surprise draw in the Malaysia Cup encounter but the Kedah coach remained tight-lipped over the validity of the penalty callAn early lead courtesy of captain Shahril Ishak seemed to indicate a relatively easy match ahead for the LionsXII as they started their Malaysia Cup campaign against Kedah on Tuesday night at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
But an equaliser against the run of play before the half-time break after a mistake by Irwan Shah not only spelt the end of the game for the young left-back but also spurred the Malaysian Premier League side to spring a surprise.
Alen Guc's last-gasp penalty conversion cancelled out Shafiq Ghani's superb free-kick to earn Kedah a well-deserved point after matching the Malaysian Super League champions on their home ground.
"I'm very happy with tonight's performance," beamed Kedah coach Antonio Sisic, who also pointed out that his side were the lowest ranked side in the competition having finished fourth in the Malaysian Premier League, the second-tier of Malaysian competitions.
"Hardwork and team spirit brought us the one point here in Singapore. It was a very tough game for both teams and everybody wanted to win this game."
Sisic also pointed out that his side did not have a clear target set for the competition and were only looking to improve themselves with each game. When asked on the penalty decision and the high number of yellow cards and fouls, the Kedah coach played the diplomat and steered clear of the topic.
"I think it was definitely a penalty," he said initially, before quickly adding: "I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to blame anybody."
"Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes, referees sometime make mistakes. But it's normal, we don't have to discuss now about referee. After all we shake hands, we speak positively. I think I don't want to waste my time discussing the referee because we are all human beings."
When pressed for a clearer opinion on the penalty decision he added, without breaking his enthusiasm: "I'm not sure. Everybody is human and can make mistakes. For our side and against our side."
"I think this kind of game, when both teams play zonal defending and high pressing then it's normal that a lot of contact and a lot of fouls happen. But we take this risk."
Sisic then revealed that two of his players, goalkeeper Abdul Hadi and defender Fariss Azlan, had 'cried' following the end of the match after fearing they had had made mistakes in the game, but he had offered encouragement and refused to blame them, again adding that 'everybody makes mistakes'.
LionsXII take on Sarawak next in a likely heated encounter in the Borneo state. In the last encounter at Kuching during the 2012 Malaysian Super League season, Shahril Ishak's 72nd minute penalty earned the Singapore side three points. Fan unrest following the end of the game took the headlines as players and fans required security to exit the stadium.