LionsXII - Sarawak Preview: Vital Malaysia Cup clash for Singaporeans


Faritz - Safuwan - Baihakki - Hafiz

Isa - Hariss (C)
Nazrul - Shahfiq - Faris


Shahran - Hairol - Ronny - Mafri

Shahrol - Eldstal - Bwele - Kallang Tie
Bobby - Salibasic

Following a 2-1 win against Perak just over two weeks ago that revived their Malaysia Cup dreams, the LionsXII welcome group leaders Sarawak in another crucial home clash on Wednesday night.

A win will see V. Sundramoorthy's men draw level with the Bujang Senang on seven points, which could throw the group wide open, depending on the result of the Perak-Kedah match a day before.

Having garnered only one point from their first three Group D games, such a reversal in fortunes will be a rather remarkable and welcome turnaround for the Malaysian Super League champions.

Sundram will likely have to field third-choice goalkeeper Neezam Aziz, with regular Izwan Mahbud and deputy Khairulhin Khalid both injured. The custodian acquitted himself decently in the recent Merdeka Cup tournament, which would have given him some much-needed playing time.

A number of LionsXII players are carrying knocks after their recent involvement on the international stage with both the Singapore senior side and Under-23 team, but are expected to recover in time. Moreover in a major boost, skipper Shahril Ishak is likely to feature at some point after recovering earlier than expected from a gluteus injury. ;

Forward Shahfiq Ghani will also return from suspension to add some much-needed firepower, while top scorer Safuwan Baharudin will be a constant threat at set-pieces as he looks to add to his two goals.

Sarawak managed a 2-1 victory when both teams clashed at their Kuching ground and coach Robert Alberts has declared that he wants all three points so as to seal their qualification to the next stage.

Defensive stalwart Hairol Mokhtar will be buoyed by his recent call-up to the national team and will be vital to Sarawak's hopes of victory. The tenacious Junior Eldstal is an integral part of their midfield engine and displayed his wide range of skills during the recent Merdeka Tournament. The half-Swede played in a more advanced role than usual, as Harimau Muda won the trophy. Upfront, the pairing of Bobby Gonzales and Muamer Salibasic is a handful for any defence.

If both sides go on the attack from the start as expected, supporters look set to be in for a cracker of a game.

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