After weeks of lamenting their profligacy in front of goal, LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad finally got the performance from his team he had been demanding on Tuesday night.
The reigning Malaysia Super League champions romped to an outstanding 4-1 win over leaders Pahang FA at the Jalan Besar Stadium, having gone a goal down early on.
The man of the hour was super-sub Sufian Anuar, who came off the bench in the second half to inspire the hosts to see off the league's most in-form side in their biggest victory of the season so far. His three goals, two of which came in injury time, came after Safuwan Baharudin had cancelled out Damion Stewart’s opener in the first half.
Fandi was more than relieved after the match, especially after the LionsXII missed a few opportunities in the initial stages.
“Madhu [Mohana] could have scored with an open goal and [Khairul] Amri missed a sitter, so I thought, ’Not another day of missing chances again’, but we had the better luck because we created it; we created more chances than them,” Fandi said at the post match press conference.
“I thought the first 20 minutes were very bad for us. I could see the nervousness in the players, but after the goal we had to make some changes and Safuwan went into midfield.
“The most important thing you can see is that the boys wanted to win badly today; we knew we could come back because we kept on pushing and pressing.”
Fandi also paid tribute to the team, especially Sufian, even though he felt they could have scored more goals.
“I thought he (Sufian) worked very hard, he deserved it because every time he plays he is frustrated with himself and today he scored,” he praised.
“This is the first time we scored four goals and it means we have finally found the touch. The last two goals were well-taken, but we could have scored more goals.
“I thought everybody played very well, we hope this is the beginning and we can continue our challenge. Hopefully the other results favour us. Most importantly is that they responded very well, this is a good sign. There are players who can step up and we are giving opportunities to everybody.”
Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan, on the other hand, was disappointed with the defeat and was critical of his team’s performance.
“It was the worst performance ever,” he said. “I think we started well, we scored the first goal and after that everybody became relaxed and undisciplined and started taking things for granted.”
The LionsXII’s next match will be at Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday as they take on Selangor FA.