Rare chance to shine for fringe LionsXII players

Published: 4:02 AM, July 6, 2013
Updated: 9:30 PM, July 7, 2013

SINGAPORE — As the dust settles on their triumphant Malaysian Super League (MSL) campaign, the LionsXII still have to muster the energy for their final MSL game tonight against last year’s champions Kelantan at the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium in Kota Bharu.

With the title in the bag, coach V Sundramoorthy could give his fringe under-23 players a chance to prove their worth ahead of the friendly against Indonesia next Saturday.

Defender Madhu Mohana, who has started only once this season, is relishing this chance to win a place in the first XI, with an eye on the Malaysia Cup which begins on Aug 17.

“For me and the rest of the younger players who are replacing the regulars, we should step up and do our best,” the 22-year-old told TODAY after training at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday.

“I want to do well to enhance my chances of starting in the Cup; or to always be ready to step in should I be called on.”

Madhu has had to juggle National Service commitments, while watching Faritz Hameed make the right-back position his own this season. He was, however, pleased to have played some part in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Felda which clinched the MSL title — as Faritz limped off in the second half with a dead leg. “It was great to play in that game, the atmosphere was just awesome. But even though we have lifted the title, everything is the same, and we have to continue giving our best,” said Madhu.

Centre-back Faris Azienuddin, 19, is also aware of the danger posed by Kelantan, who recently retained the Malaysia FA Cup. “Against Kelantan, I want to ensure I stay composed and play a normal game, and be mentally prepared for any challenges that comes my way,” said the former Courts Young Lions player.

Like his charges, Sundram believes the team he puts out can cope against the likes of forward Indra Putra Mahayuddin and playmaker Mohd Badhri Radzi.

He said: “We will field a team made up largely of under-23 players. We have to start preparing for the friendly against Indonesia on July 15 but with the guidance of a few senior players like Baihakki (Khaizan), they will put up a good fight.”