By Gabriel TanFollow @@gabetan13
The Crocs took the lead at the Sarawak State Stadium in the 11th minute when opposition defender Shakir Hamzah scored an unfortunate own-goal, before Joseph Kalang Tie made it 2-0 with a penalty in the 70th minute.
Still, the visitors, who were reduced to ten men after Shahfiq Ghani received a straight red in the incident that led to Sarawak's penalty, pulled one back six minutes later when Safuwan Baharudin headed home from close range, but they were unable to find a second to force the draw.
Along with Tuesday's 2-2 draw at home to Kedah, the LIONSXII only have a point to their name and face a tricky task to progress to the knockout round from Group D, despite there still being four games remaining.
Although they have not exactly been impressive on the road so far in 2013, the reigning Super League champions would still have been expecting to get a result against Sarawak given their opponents' second-tier status.
However, it took the hosts just 11 minutes to break the deadlock although there was a touch of fortune involved, as a long throw from Ronny Harun was punched by Izwan Mahbud into Shakir, who could do little to prevent the ball from smashing off his back and into the net.
But the goal did stun the LIONSXII into action and they had a good chance a minute after the half-hour mark when Hafiz Abu Sujad floated a searching cross onto the head of Fazrul Nawaz, only for him to send a weak effort wide.
Three minutes before the break, they found more joy down the wings as Fazli Ayob found space on the right and chipped a teasing ball into the box, but neither Fazrul nor Safuwan could connect from close range despite their desperate attempts.
With the momentum gradually swinging in his side's favour, LIONSXII coach V. Sundramoorthy decided to introduce skipper Shahril Ishak at the break and promising forward Shahfiq Ghani followed shortly after the hour mark.
Nonetheless, while Shahril made a positive impact after coming as he added another dimension to the visitors' attack, Shahfiq had the opposite effect as, four minutes after coming on, he inexplicably slapped Muamer Salibasic while defending a set-piece.
The referee has no hesitation and pointed straight to the spot, before issuing the 21-year-old a straight red and after the dust has settled, Kalang Tie coolly stepped up and sent Izwan the wrong way with his penalty to make it 2-0.
Despite it looking distinctly like a lost cause now, the LIONSXII continued to show the same resolve that played a key factor in their Super League title success.
And six minutes after going two down, they pulled one back after Hariss Harun burst down the left and chipped a cross to the back post, where Safuwan got in ahead of Shahril to nod the ball over the line from two yards out.
But try as they might, the LIONSXII just were not able to find the equaliser despite throwing almost everybody forward in the closing stages, and they now have it all to do if they are to qualify for the last eight of the tournament.
Sarawak: Sani Anuar Kamsani, Mafry Balang, Hairol Moktar, Ronny Harun, Ramesh Lai, Zamri Morshidi (Azizan Baba 86'), Guy Bwele (Shahrol Saperi 17'), Junior Eldstal, Joseph Kalang Tie (Mazwandi Zekeria 77'), Muamer Salibasic, Bobby Gonzales.
LIONSXII: Izwan Mahbud, Faritz Hameed (Zulfahmi Arifin 81'), Baihakki Khaizan, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Isa Halim, Hariss Harun, Fazli Ayob (Shahfiq Ghani 64'), Aqhari Abdullah, Hafiz Abu Sujad (Shahril Ishak 46'), Fazrul Nawaz.