|By Khalis Rifhan
The LionsXII may have lost the ‘Battle of Selayang’ against ATM FA in the Malaysia Cup semi-final, but they look to have won the hearts and minds of Singaporeans with their spirited and courageous performance on Thursday night.
Despite it being a working day, more than a hundred LionsXII fans were present at Changi Airport to welcome their heroes on Friday evening.
Even though the LionsXII will not be making an appearance in the final, that fact was secondary to the fans after they saw how the team overcame all odds to reach this stage before bowing out with pride.
“They have fought for the war and they deserve my utmost respect," said Mathu Yusof, who has been supporting LionsXII since the start of the season.
"They stood strong, and [have] provided me with quality entertainment since the start of the year.
"They have played beautifully throughout and [will] forever be our heroes.”
"We appreciate the effort put in," added Faizah Munirah,another supporter.
"They played well with all their sweat and genuine tears, nothing can buy that. Harsh words are not needed' we know they were the real champions last night."
For Nazree Nazeer, he continue to support the team regardless of the outcome and is looking forward to the new campaign in 2013.
“If [it is] not us, then who else?" said Nazree passionately.
"We have been supporting the LionsXII since day one. Win or lose, we will still be supporting them.
"They didn't make it to the final, but that is okay. There is still another year.”
Touched by the warm words from the supporters, some LionsXII players took to social media platforms Facebook and Twitter to show their gratitude to their loyal fans.
“Didn’t expect such a turnout at the airport. Thank u fans for the support!” said full-back Juma'at Jantan, while midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman said: “Thank you guys for the warm welcome, appreciate it a lot.”
Goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at also expressed appreciation for the turnout, saying: “Thanks for the reception. Love it.”
“Touches my heart when the fans come to welcome us even though we lost. Thank you with all my heart!” added a touched Isa Halim.