|FROM LARKIN, JOHOR
By Khalis Rifhan
Johor Darul Takzim striker Norshahrul Idlan Talaha snatched a late goal ten minutes from the end to save his team from an embarrassing defeat to the LionsXII at the Larkin Stadium on Tuesday night in the Malaysian Super League, as they came way with a 2-2 draw.
Hariss Harun had earlier stunned the home crowd with a goal in the fourth minute, before Italian midfielder Simone Del Nero equalized for the Southern Tigers 11 minutes later.
Baihakki Khaizan then put the LionsXII in front again eight minutes before half-time, with Norshahrul's goal denying them victory.
Darul Takzim coach Fandi Ahmad was clearly not a happy man as he witnessed their poor first-half performance and pointed to his players' weaknesses throughout the season so far.
“At this moment, there are a lot of attackers and individual players. They forget their responsibility as a team. Their task has not been carried out properly. That is our problem right now," Fandi said after the game.
“We could have lost and also won, but [in] the second half we really pushed them as we knew they would start sitting back and play the long ball and counter attack.
“I am just disappointed as we should have collected three points, but a point is very fair. I have never seen the LionsXII play so well [before]."
Fandi also explained that he did not expect the LionsXII to start the way they did, as the visitors went into top gear from the first whistle, before launching into a tirade on his players again.
“Today LionsXII is different [because] they shocked us as they did not sit back, but instead attacked us from the start. Our defence was shaken and we were not stable after the first goal,” Fandi explained.
“They were quick in sending the long ball forward and our players were caught out by it and trapped by those attacks.
“LionsXII played very well but in the first half, Johor did not play at all. I don’t know what’s wrong but sometimes it happens. I wonder what’s wrong with them."
Fandi did take some of the blame with regards to playing defender Aidil Zafuan, who had just returned from injury.
“He [Aidil] was willing to take the risk, but it backfired. It is my fault because he wanted to play and I thought he would do the job," he said.
Darul Takzim will next travel to Petaling Jaya Stadium in Kelana Jaya, Selangor to face Felda United on February 23.