|By Khalis Rifhan
The LionsXII started their rescheduled Malaysia FA Cup tie against Selangor PKNS on a negative note as they were onyl told hours before kick-off by match commissioner Jalaluddin Khamaruddin that they had to field the same starting line-up from the previous day.
With Faritz Hameed (NS) and captain Shahril Ishak (personal issues) having travelled back to Singapore on Saturday morning, the LionsXII were forced to make two substitutions at the start with Faris Azienuddin and Izzdin Shafiq as they took to the field with nine men initially.
To make matters worse, the visitors were reduced to ten men in the 24th minute after Raihan Rahman, who was booked yesterday, received a yellow card. With all yellow cards from the abandoned match being carried over to this game, this meant a second booking and thus a red card for the midfielder.
It was a pity as V. Sundramoorthy's side had started the brighter of the two, with the adventurous Gabriel Quak showed what he was capable of down the left flank early on.
In the 13th minute, the winger did well to wriggle his way past his markers and cross the ball to the far post only for Raihan to shoot straight at goalkeeper Remezey.
The LionsXII were to rue that missed opportunity as the Red Ants took the lead six minutes later through Fauzan Dzulkifli, who rose highest at a corner to head the ball beyond the hapless Izwan Mahbud.
Six minutes after the restart, the Singapore side almost gave away another goal as Baihakki Khaizan failed to clear his lines. However, Patrick Wleh’s effort hit the underside of the bar, much to the relief of LionsXII bench.
Baihaikki was clearly not at his best as he allowed Wleh to easily brush past him in the 80th minute, although no PKNS player got on the end of the Liberian striker's teasing low cross.
With the clock ticking down, Sundram decided to introduce fresh legs in the form of Aqhari Abdullah for the hardworking Quak.
The debutant could have got his name on the score sheet jsut five minutes after coming on, but he blazed his shot wildly over the bar after defender-turned-makeshift-striker Safuwan Baharudin did well to pull the ball back into the box.
Despitetheir best efforts, the LionsXII had no answer to the tight and compact PKNS defence as they crashed out of the competition at the first hurdle.
With the win, PKNS will next meet defending champions Kelantan FA in the second round of the FA Cup.