Sunday, 24 May 2015

Malaysian FA Cup Final | Kelantan 1-3 LionsXII | Singaporeans snatch first ever FA Cup

By Mark Dawson(


Despite being under pressure for much of the game, Lions XII struck two late goals to snatch their first ever FA Cup

The Singaporean team shocked the large pro-Kelantan crowd with a goal out of nowhere on seven minutes. There seemed little danger when Izzdin Shafiq picked up the ball within his own half, but he put a piercing ball behind the Kelantan right-back and centre-half which Faris Ramli scampered onto in a flash. Khairul Fahmi was forced to leave his line and try and close down Ramli, who in turn rounded the keeper and slotted home cooly.

However this goal was not a sign of things to come, as for the remainder of the first half it was a tide of red as Kelantan pressed hard to get back into the game. Five minutes after the equaliser and Wan Zack Haikul who got behind the Lions defence, but his firm shot across goal was well saved by Izwan Mahbud.

The Red Warriors foreign strikeforce of Erwin Carillo and Gilmar were beginning to make their mark on the game, and Carillo had a fine chance to level on the 25 minute mark. While the striker may have been guilty of pushing Nazul Nazari in the build-up, after this he skillfully sidestepped defender Madhu Mohana to find himself one on one with Mahbud who saved brilliantly with his legs.

With Kelantan firmly on top and Lions unable to keep the ball, it was again Wan Zack and Carillo who again linked up on the half hour mark, with the winger getting to the byline and cutting back for the Columbian whose shot was desperately blocked on the line by Nazul Nazari. Five minutes after this it was the turn of Gilmar to come close, as he missed from eight yards after Lions made a mess of clearing a bouncing ball in their area.

Although Lions XII were able to see out the last ten minutes of the first half with little fuss, as soon as the second half got underway they again found their backs against the ball. Mahbud had to be quick of his line on 50 minutes to foil Carillo, who had been played in by Gilmar, while ten minutes after this Nazul Nazari was again the man between Carillo and the goal when he intercepted Gilmar’s dangerous ball across goal.

But the Singaporean team could not hold out forever, and on 62 minutes the richly deserved equaliser came. Gilmar was given far too much time and space to bring a ball down on his chest and turn, and his through ball was met by the tireless Wan Zack who poked home ahead of Mahbud. Soon after the equaliser, Carillo came close to the goal he deserved with a blistering shot from 25 yards, which despite having good power, was straight at Mahbud who parried over.

Even though Lions somewhat rebounded after the goal, having more of the ball than in the previous hour, it was still Kelantan who looked to be heading to victory, especially with the powerful Iwuji Amachi being introduced from the bench and many Singaporean players dropping due to cramp and injury.

However on 81 minutes the stadium was stunned as Lions again took the lead, this time through substitute Sahil Suhaimi. The goal came from a poor mistake from Nik Shahrul, who under no pressure executed a sloppy pass giving the ball straight to Suhaimi ,who drove forward past Amirizwan Taj before firing low past a flailing Khairul Fahmi.

Depsite Gilmar again going close with a curling effort on 89 minutes, it was Lions who amazingly wrapped up the game in stoppage time after Amirizwan clumsily felled Sahil Suhaimi as the two chased a long ball into the Kelantan area. Suhaimi dusted himself off to send Fahmi the wrong way and secure Lions first ever Malaysia FA Cup title.

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