A second-place finish and a final day home defeat might have slightly dampened the early season celebratory mood for LionsXII fans, but the big return to the Malaysian league was a memorable experience no less.
The Goal.com Singapore team looks back at the Malaysian Super League season that was for the LionsXII and picks out some worthy mentions and memories.
LIONSXII MOMENT OF THE SEASON
| 9-0 WIN VS SABAH FA
The league title was clearly out of the LionsXII's grasp by the time Sabah FA paid a visit to Jalan Besar
Stadium on June 16. But with pressure off their shoulders and returning from a three-week break in the league, the Singapore side stormed past the visitors, with Hariss Harun grabbing a hat-trick. It was the highest scoring and the biggest win of the season.
En Lim: "The first time I sat with the fans in the grandstand rather than the media box, It was a moment to savour. 9-0 was pretty incredible, the fans were amazing during the match, and so were the much more superior LionsXII."
LIONSXII MOMENT TO FORGET
| 3-3 DRAW VS KEDAH FA
The 3-0 defeat at Kelantan signalled the end of the LionsXII's hopes of a title but good form for the rest of the campaign would have put the team back in title contention. An away win at Felda United just four days earlier had raised hopes when a struggling Kedah FA side came calling on May 12.
Shahril Ishak's early goal was cancelled out by Khyril Zambri, but by the hour mark the home side were 3-1 up and looking to add more. Then, two quick goals from Amar Rohidan and Vedran Gerc ended the match in a tie. Three days later the LionsXII will play out a drab goalless draw at basement side Kuala Lumpur FA and give up on any realistic hopes of a title.
Patrick Lim: "Coming off the 3-0 loss to Kelantan, this was a great chance for the Lions to regain their momentum against a mid-table side. Instead, they stuttered to a 3-3 draw, losing both Juma'at Jantan and influential skipper, Shahril Ishak, for the season."
LIONSXII GOAL OF THE SEASON
| SHAHDAN'S CHIPPED GOAL VS SABAH FA
The 9-0 victory over Sabah FA gets a second mention and this time it's Shahdan Sulaiman's first goal against the Borneo side that takes the honours.
By the time the playmaker registered on the scoresheet the home side were already 3-0 up.
Here's the goal as described in Goal.com Singapore's match report: 'a moment of individual brilliance undid their initial resolve as Casmir’s lofted cut-back was chested by Shadan Sulaiman who then proceeded to nonchalantly lob the ball over the despairing dive of Irwan Jamil.'
The goal was a wonderful mark of teamwork too, a pleasing sight to fans who had seen the LionsXII stumble out of the title race in recent matches and witness the loss of captain Shahril Ishak.
Saran Raj: "Wonderful team goal, Hariss' excellent through ball finding Agu Casmir, who draws the defenders away before passing to Shahdan, who chips it over the keeper."
En Lim: 'Two words - absolute class. The playmaker's cheeky lobbed goal perfectly summed up his campaign.'
LIONSXII PLAYER OF THE SEASON
| HARISS HARUN
Look at those eyes. Would you dare mess with this man? Of course not. Hariss Harun at the age of 21, is one of the most effective defensive midfielders in the region. In a campaign storied with injuries, suspensions and withdrawals, Hariss had roles in the heart of defence as well in midfield. Although serving his full-time National Service the young Lion Heart, gave his best in every game and also added to his offensive capabilities as well, as seen in his first ever senior hat-trick against Sabah FA.
Nafis Dali: "Close call between Hariss and Shahdan. If one focuses solely on footballing abilities, then perhaps the effervescent Shahdan narrowly edges it. But Hariss gets the nod due to his influence on and off the pitch. Has proven to be our own Captain Marvel ever since Shahril Ishak's injury ruled him out and the captaincy has given him extra spring in his steps rather than burden him."
Saran Raj: "His influence on the team is immense, always composed in attack and in defense. Rarely gives away possession and the team seem lost when he doesn't play."
LIONSXII PHOTO OF THE SEASON
| BAIHAKKI'S CELEBRATION VS KELANTAN FA
Baihakki Khaizan scored the first goal of the LionsXII season against reigning champions Kelantan FA. His exuberant celebration with the fans after his strike taken by our very own Zeng Liwei is our choice for photo of the season.
Goal.com Singapore will once again like to congratulate the LionsXII on a stellar maiden campaign! We look forward to more memorable moments at the Malaysia Cup in a month's time!