|By Khalis Rifhan
Despite being outplayed and outclassed by Pahang FA in the first leg, LionsXII heaved a huge sigh of relief as they were given a crucial away goal courtesy of an own goal by Pahang captain Jalaluddin Jaafar.
Although they have only managed to score a low of five goals so far in the campaign, their defensive record has been a pillar of strength, conceding four goals to date, two of which came in the group stages.
Captain Shahril Ishak is fully aware that there are no two ways about it other than to score goals. Although the team is confident of a good showing, Shahril acknowledged that it’s going to be another tough game against Pahang.
“We got a tough job to do," he told Goal.com Singapore.
"It is an important game for us and the team is now mentally prepared and all were focused during training.
“We know that we have to score goals to qualify for the semi-final, so we got to show our desire and pride in the game. We got to attack and win the game.
“And I as the team captain, I believe in the players.”
Midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman echoed his captain's sentiments saying; "It’s a do-or-die game. All or nothing.”
Pahang on the other hand despite being the highest scoring team in the group stage with a staggering 17 goals, their defence at times has given coach Dollah Salleh a nightmare, as evident in their previous matches against T-Team, Sarawak FA and the LionsXII.
Dollah, who is assisted by Zainal Abidin, is trying to reinstate the ethos of the golden years when the team played fast attacking football, helping themselves to the double in 1992.
Pahang last won the Malaysia Cup 20 years ago with what was arguably their strongest squad in their history, boasting the like of Fandi Ahmad, Borhan Abu Samah, Dollah and Zainal.
The first leg saw LionsXII struggling to contain the adventurous Gopinathan down the left flank, Russian Boris Kochkin in the centre of midfield and the telepathic pairing of Brazilian Maycon and Azamuddin.
Although there is no suspension worry for LionsXII, Yasir Hanapi, Safuwan Bahrudin, Isa Halim and Irwan Shah will be playing cautiously as they are a yellow card away from being suspended for the semi-final, should they overcome the one goal deficit.