LionsXII to tour Indonesia as part of preparations for MSL 2014

Published: 4:02 AM, December 20, 2013
Updated: 9:10 PM, December 20, 2013

SINGAPORE — The LionsXII will go on a three-match tour of Indonesia as part of their preparations for the Malaysian Super League (MSL) season, which kicks off on Jan 17.

New LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad has confirmed that his squad will play in Yogyakarta, an hour’s flight from Jakarta, against the local club sides. He believes this will give his team a feel of the intense competition they can expect in the MSL.

The Indonesian clubs include Real Mataram from the Liga Primer Indonesia, Persiba Bantul from the Indonesia Premier League, and PSI Mataram, a club in the Indonesian second division.

“We need the matches because I want the players to have a feel of competition before the MSL begins, and matches in Indonesia are always intense affairs,” said Fandi. “The matches draw big crowds, which are sometimes very vocal, too. It will be good for us.”

The dates for the tour have not been fixed yet but he said the trip will start only after the Under-23 team return from the SEA Games in Myanmar.

“There will be a short break of about three to five days for the players who are involved in the SEA Games. Then we will go on the tour,” said Fandi.

He told TODAY he is hoping to add another player to the LionsXII’s 24-strong squad. “I know registration has closed but I have spoken to the Football Association of Singapore to see if we can add another attacking midfielder,” said Fandi, who did not reveal the player’s name.

The defending MSL champions will open their 2014 campaign with an away game to Pahang, the reigning Malaysia Cup winners.

The match is for the Charity Shield, the season’s traditional curtain-raiser. The Football Association of Malaysia has decided for the first time that the fixture will also serve as a league match, with points awarded after the 90 minutes are up. DAN GUEN CHIN