|By Khalis Rifhan
LionsXII started offensively as captain Shahril Ishak played the ball to Shahdan Sulaiman at the edge of the box but the latter’s attempt on goal was weak and did not trouble Pahang FA’s Wan Muhd Azraie.
The home side failed to build up on that early momentum as they allowed the visitors to seize control of the game and tested national custodian Izwan Mahbud on numerous occasions.
Azamuddin Akil cleverly beats the offside trap down the right flank and drives the ball across goal, with Maycon Calvarho and Fauzi Roslan lurking in the six yard box. Fortunately for the home side, Baihakki Khaizan makes a last ditch clearance.
Azamuddin was proving to be a menace down the flank as he beat his marker but saw his shot hitting the upright on 7 minutes. Minutes later, Azamuddin cleverly played a through ball to Fauzi down the middle but once again, Izwan proved to come out trumps with a fingertip away for safety.
Despite coming under barrage of attacks in the opening stages of the game, the home side regained their composure, created chances of their own and eventually found the back of the net.
First up was Khairul who took a first timer at the edge of the penalty box which disappointingly swerved away from goal.
But the sellout home crowd need not wait any longer as Shahril grabbed the opener ten minutes before the break as his header flew to the top corner, beyond the reach of the goalkeeper.
With a goal up, the second half saw the home side adopting a one-man attack - putting the faith on substitute Agu Casmir, who had come on for the injured Khairul in the first half.
There was a look of disbelief on coach Sundram's face as his players were guilty of missing several glorious opportunities. Hariss Harun blasted the ball high from six yards and Agu did likewise from three yards, both after a well-crafted attack from midfield.
LionsXII sealed their spot in the semi-final game eleven minutes from the end with Shahril getting his double. Safirul Sulaiman did well down the left before providing a perfect cross into the box which needed no invitation as the skipper heads the ball to the back of the net.
Following their successful advancment, the LionsXII will host the Malaysian Armed Forces in the first leg of the semifinal on Friday, 5 October, at the Jalan Besar stadium.