By Gabriel Tan
After back-to-back victories over ATM and Selangor, the Singaporean side saw their winning start to the 2013 season end on Tuesday as they fell to PKNS, their third straight defeat in three trips to the Shah Alam Stadium to face the Red Ants.
The game was largely a miserable outing for the LIONSXII as they wasted good chances to edge ahead in the first half, with Fazrul Nawaz and Gabriel Quak both guilty of being slightly wasteful in front of goal.
Those misses came back to haunt them in the 78th minute when PKNS substitute Nazrin Syamsul netted with a terrific long-range strike and, to add insult to injury, the visitors were reduced to ten men in injury time after Fazrul received a straight red for a dangerous challenge.
Nonetheless, the disappointing defeat looks to have been firmly pushed to the back of the LIONSXII players' minds, as they looked in good spirits in training on Friday.
With the Jalan Besar Stadium faithful behind them come Saturday, Isa is aware his team-mates have no better opportunity to bounce back and make amends when they take on Terengganu, a side they beat just once in four meetings last term.
"We are looking to get over the loss," he told ESPNSTAR.com. "And it doesn't get any better playing at home.
"Terengganu are not an easy team to beat but we will work to the best of our abilities and play to the coach's instructions.
"We are looking forward to the game, especially with the home crowd behind us."
At present, the Turtles are languishing near the foot of the table after picking up just one point from their opening three games.
After the troubled campaign they had in 2012, the Terengganu hierarchy decided to replace former coach Peter Butler with E. Elavarasan at the end of last year and he immediately rang the changes by bringing in a plethora of new faces, including ex-Negri Sembilan striker Jean-Emmanuel Effa Owona.
And while they clearly are yet to fully click as a team, Isa believes they will still pose a tough test on Saturday, especially with the attacking threat of Effa Owona, Abdul Manaf Mamat, Ashaari Shamsuddin and Ismail Faruqi Asha'ri.
"We struggled to beat them last year," the 26-year-old admitted.
"Even though this year they have made a lot of signings, they are all of quality, especially Effa. We know we have to try and neutralise the threat he will pose.
"He's yet to really start finding the net and I hope he won't start against us. We will try to contain him as well as the other dangerous players they have, especially on the wings."
Isa, who was part of the Singapore squad that won the AFF Suzuki Cup last year, also expressed his belief that the LIONSXII would need no motivation for Saturday's high-profile clash, something he admits might not have been the case in their loss to PKNS.
Furthermore, the tenacious midfielder is hoping his younger team-mates will learn from the defeat and avoid complacency while playing in what he believes is a very competitive league.
"It's never easy playing away games and, for me, I prefer to play against stronger teams," he added.
"That's not to say that PKNS aren't a strong side but somehow, when we knew both their foreigners were out of the game through injury and suspension, it might have taken the sting out of our preparation.
"That's not good for us as team. We have to learn that in the Malaysia Super League every team is competitive and everybody plays to the highest level.
"We learnt that against PKNS, who were without their two foreign players.
"For me, it's a good thing that we lost in the early part of the season - we can now rectify the problem. It's a wake-up call for us and the younger boys now understand there's no such thing as an easy team to play against in away games.
"We have to learn sooner or later that there are no small teams in the Super League and I hope the defeat serves as a lesson and we can continue to move forward."
Following Saturday's game, the LIONSXII face T-Team in the league next Tuesday before meeting PKNS again in the first round of the FA Cup, a game Isa is relishing
"We didn't play very well on Tuesday but we're going to face them again next Friday," he said. "This time, we're going to make it right."
Prior to joining the LIONSXII at the start of last year, Isa spent three seasons with Great Eastern-YEO's S.League giants Home United and was part of the side that won the RHB Singapore Cup in 2011.