LIONSXII down Kedah to make cup quarters

Malaysia Super League champions LIONSXII are through to the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals after claiming a 3-1 win over Group D opponents Kedah on Saturday.

LIONSXII vs T-Team: Shahril Ishak
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Despite being criticised often for their perceived defensive ways on the road, the Singaporean outfit showed plenty of adventure from the opening whistle against a Kedah side that held them to a 2-2 draw at the Jalan Besar Stadium in their earlier meeting.

And following a bright start, the LIONSXII opened the scoring in the 24th minute after Faris Ramli found space down the left and chipped a lovely cross into the box, where Hariss Harun proceeded to send a neat glancing header into the far corner.

Six minutes before the break, it was 2-0 when Shahfiq Ghani swung a left-wing freekick to the far post and onto the head of Safuwan Baharudin, who nodded it back into the six-yard box to allow Baihakki Khaizan to smash the ball home from close range.

However, Kedah did give themselves a lifeline on the stroke of halftime when they pulled one back; Nelson San Martin's incisive pass releasing Syafiq Ahmad, who raced into the box before crossing for Alen Guc to head home.

But six minutes after the hour mark, the visitors secured the vital three points thanks to a fine individual strike from Hafiz Abu Sujad, who skipped past Fariss Azlan Isa and advanced on goal before drilling a 25-yard strike past a hapless Abdul Hadi Hamid.

The fact that the LIONSXII managed to qualify for the knockout round was a remarkable achievement given they had initially picked up just one point from their opening three games, although they made up for that with three straight victories thereafter.

Nonetheless, the win was still not enough to see them take top spot from Sarawak, meaning their quarter-final opponents will be Group A winners ATM, who eliminated them on penalties at the semi-final stage last season.

Image courtesy of FAS (Shirly Hamra)

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