Photo by Jervis Mun (FAS)
The LionsXII were crowned Malaysian Super League Champions 2013 final roar last night when they beat relegation threatened Felda United FC.
A 7,650 strong crowd was bursting the seams of the Jalan Besar stadium to witness Singapore’s Under-23 team take home their 13th title with a 4-nil win over the Malaysian side.
Although starting out as underdogs this season, this has turned out to be the Singapore boys’ best league performance.
But the confident young team worked their way up to the best table records in the 2013 season as they sat on top of the league for much of the season.
With 11 wins, 7 draws and just 2 losses, the Lions were always going to be the favourites to wrestle the cup from title defenders Kelantan FA, which incidentally are our local heroes’ final opponents of the league.
Often touting that their fans serve as the 12th man, the LionsXII did very well at home to secure nine victories at the Jalan Besar stadium. Their away form wasn’t too shabby as well, as they stoutly defended their fixtures in Malaysia, with six draws.
The team also put on spirited performances, by coming back from losing positions. The LionsXII outfit secured nine points from losing positions in games, which showed their perseverance and exemplary comeback skills.
The fans were treated to great spectacles as they witnessed the hunger and passion that the players put into every match as they strived to become champions of the calendar year.
With the team performing consistently in the league, it was no surprise that the tickets for home games at the Jalan Besar stadium were sold out days before any fixture.
A 4-point gap between second-placed Selangor and Johor Darul Takzim, prior to the match-up with Felda United FC, ensured that the LionsXII would seal the championship with a win over the relegation threatened team.
With a 15 game unbeaten run, the LionsXII were the favourites to take the title.
Captain Sharil Ishak was firing on all cylinders becoming the danger man for the LionsXII. The forward had an impressive record of scoring 5 winning goals in throughout the tournament
Nerves would have been expected because of the absence of key senior players like Baihakki Khaizan and Isa Halim. Brushing aside all worries the boys put on one of their strongest performances yet to win the game.
“My boys tried their best from the start of the season all the way through till now, although there have been a lot of ups, downs and challenges along the way,” commented coach V Sundramoorthy. “But they really pulled us through and here we are, holding the title in front of our home fans.”
Even with the championship trophy in hand, the LionsXII still have one game away to Kelantan FA. Having lost to Kelantan FA in the opening fixture of the 2012 MSL, the LionsXII definitely have some unfinished business to settle with the former MSL Champions.
A heated clash is expected to occur at the Sultan Muhammad IV stadium where the just crowned 2013 Champions are set to take on the 2012 titleholders.
“We need to rest a couple of key players for the final game and bring back some of the other players who have been suspended. We will also give some of the boys who haven’t had decent playing time to have a run out in the tournament,” mentioned Coach Sundram.
The LionsXII definitely want to cap the brilliant campaign with a win.
The SEA Games will soon be the main priority for the LIONS, but for now it is the LionsXII who reign supreme.