The stage is set for the LionsXII to begin the defense of their Malaysia Super League (MSL) title after ending their pre-season tour of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on a winning note on Friday.
Khairul Amri’s goal in the 45th minute was the only difference against PSS Sleman at the Maguwoharjo Stadium as the LionsXII recorded its second win in three games on the tour.
The reigning MSL champions had edged PPSM Magelang 2-1 on Tuesday at the Madya Stadium, having lost 3-0 to Indonesia Premier League (IPL) side Persis Solo last Saturday.
The LionsXII were also beaten 3-1 by the Courts Young Lions in their first pre-season friendly match last Tuesday.
Head coach Fandi Ahmad was pleased with the efforts of his players throughout the tour and stressed the importance the trip had on his team.
“It has been a good tour – with three good matches that provided our players, especially the young ones such as Emmeric Ong, Ignatius Ang and Syafiq Zainal, a feel of the intensity of matches in front of big and vocal crowds,” Fandi said.
“The nine-day trip also strengthened the bonding among the players and officials and we are looking forward to our first match in the MSL next Friday. It will not be an easy season but I believe the team’s perseverance and fighting spirit will play a key role in the next 10 months.”
Vice-captain Safuwan Baharudin echoed his coach’s statements and was pleased with the bonding of the team as a unit.
“We have several new players this season, and the training tour has helped them settle in well,” the Goal Singapore Player of the Year said.
“While a few players were not able to play in the matches, it is good that they are here with the team not only to work on their fitness but also to gel and bond as a cohesive unit.
“Many players in the squad have gained experience through the years of playing together and they will play an important role in guiding and mentoring the younger players. We will put up our best performance and we look forward to our fans’ support which will be vital in our quest for success this season.”
The LionsXII will kick off their 2014 season against Pahang FA on January 17 in Kuantan.