LionsXII head coach Fandi Ahmad has told his players not to get stressed out about playing in Saturday's final of the 2015 Malaysia FA Cup.
The Singapore side will face Kelantan in the showcase match in Kuala Lumpur after riding their luck to defeat Terengganu on the away goals rule in their semifinal on Saturday. They lost the second leg 3-2 to make it 4-4 on aggregate.
It will be the first time that a Singaporean side have appeared in the FA Cup final.
"Malaysian football is hard, it takes more than skills, technique and good tactics to win," Fandi told The New Paper. "You need grit and determination. "And the only way to get that, is to relax and enjoy the football."
The former Singapore international was on the losing side in 2013 as coach of Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT). The Southern Tigers lost the final 1-0 to Bojan Hodak's Kelantan.
He also took S.League side Courts Young Lions to the 2006 semifinals when they were defeated 3-2 on aggregate to Perlis.
LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad has told his players not to get stressed out about playing in Saturday's final of the Malaysia FA Cup. Photo credit: LionsXII
Fandi applauded his players for holding their nerve at Kuala Terengganu before 40,000 fans in the second leg.
"There were scary moments but the players did not panic much at all," he said. "In fact they showed a lot of grit and determination even though Terengganu were all over us -- and that is definitely want I want to see in the final." Despite LionsXII being in eighth spot in the 12 team Malaysia Super League (MSL) compared to Kelantan in 10th, Fandi said his side are "definitely the underdogs" for the final.
They lost 2-0 to Kelantan away in their opening match of the MSL campaign and have lost six of seven matches to the Red Warriors since entering Malaysian domestic football in 2012.
"Kelantan have been quite unstoppable at Kota Bahru but we're not playing the final there so there won't be a mental block," he said. "We just have to enjoy our football -- and believe."