|FROM JALAN BESAR STADIUM
By Khalis Rifhan
Negeri Sembilan find themselves still rooted to the bottom of the Malaysian Super League table after their slender 1-0 loss to the LionsXII at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
Shahril Ishak scored the only goal of the match 11 minutes from time in a match filled with stoppages, as the visiting players seemed keen to spend more time on the ground than on the ball.
Indeed, Argentine forward Emmanuel De Porras collapsed in a heap upon the slightest of touches on at least three separate occasions, which led to him being roundly booed when he was substituted in the second half.
But Deers coach Divaldo Alves did not see anything wrong with his team's alleged playacting on the field.
“This is part of the game," he claimed. "The LionsXII did that same after they scored [and it's all] part of the game.
“I don’t have to say bad things about them, but we need to improve ourselves. Ninety percent of the goals from the LionsXII is from crosses, and we knew this.
“The team is organized and knows what they need to do. We were not unlucky [and the] LionsXII is the better team. They were fighting [hard] and deserved to win.”
Alves shifted part of the blame to the field at Jalan Besar, saying that his team were not used to the artificial turf.
“Today was not our usual game, but my players tried their best," he claimed. "It was not easy to change to this type of field and it is very hard [for us]."
Before making his way out from the post-match conference room, the Portuguese coach claimed that although the LionsXII are currently at the top of the table, they might not bring home the league title this year.
“To be honest, if I look at Selangor and ATM, maybe yes [they can win the title], but we have to see [how] the second round [goes]," Alves said.
Negeri Sembilan will next face Terengganu FA in the first leg of the Malaysian FA Cup quarter-finals on April 6 at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Seremban.