'Playing away is never easy' - LionsXII coach Sundramoorthy admits a victory will be hard against Johor FC

LionsXII kick off their Malaysia Cup campaign away to Johor FC at the Pasir Gudang stadium and they will be keen to start on the right note and bring back the Cup which was last won in 1994.

Preparations have not been smooth-sailing for coach V. Sundramoorthy as several of his key players such as Shahril Ishak, Safuwan Bahrudin and Agu Casmir were spending more time on the treatment table than on the training pitch.

Expect the trio to be fully fit in time for the clash against the neighbours from across the causeway, and play a crucial role in guiding the team to a decent result.

But disaster struck the team a few days before the cup opener as Khairul Nizam was ruled out for the rest of the season after he sustained an injury in a friendly against Albirex Niigata (S) last Friday.

“He (Khairul Nizam) is physically strong and good in the air and it’s definitely a loss for us but this is all part and parcel of football," conceded V.Sundramoorthy.

"We just have to remain focused and play with the available players and this also gives me other options to think of."

Back on April, 7, 2012, LionsXII eked out a hard fought away win against Johor FC with Nizam scoring the only goal of the game. The return fixture saw the Johorians causing an upset by a similar scoreline inthe last match of the league campaign.

“Playing at Pasir Gudang is always difficult, even top teams find it hard against Johor FC at that stadium," said Sundram.

"Of course we love to win the game but playing away is never easy, especially in a cup competition. Most importantly the players must be aware and know of their responsibility on the pitch.”

With the fans back home eager to see the team lifting the cup after 18 years, Sundram has his work cut out for him. He understands the importance and symbolic meaning of the Cup for Singaporeans adding: “For me, Malaysia Cup is something special with its history and tradition. So the boys must lift themselves up and perform at a higher level to obtain success.”

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