- POSTED: 05 Oct 2013 00:18
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Marlon James, the man who denied the LionsXII a place in the Malaysia Cup final last season, returned to inflict more pain on the Singaporean side at the Selayang Stadium Friday night.
SINGAPORE: Marlon James, the man who denied the LionsXII a place in the Malaysia Cup final last season, returned to inflict more pain on the Singaporean side at the Selayang Stadium Friday night.
The 36-year-old veteran striker, who hails from the Carribean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines, bagged a hat-trick as Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) stunned the LionsXII 4-1 in the second leg of the quarter-final to progress 4-2 on aggregate.
James was the one who scored in stoppage time in the teams’ semi-final second-leg clash last season to send the match into a penalty shootout which the LionsXII subsequently lost.
The LionsXII -- defending a 1-0 lead from last Saturday’s first leg -- were playing in their new white-and-black strip for the first time this season but it did not prove to be the lucky charm they were looking for.
The visitors got off to a good start and thought they won a penalty in the fourth minute when Shahril Ishak was bundled over in the goal area by ATM right-back K Reuben. The referee refused to point to the spot but that did not seem to bother the LionsXII captain, who had a great shot well saved just a minute later.
ATM began to dominate proceedings following that but found it difficult to get past the LionsXII defence initially.
The breakthrough for the home side came in the 24th minute, when LionsXII midfielder Hariss Harun deflected a cross from ATM winger Christie Jayaseelan into the path of goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, who then bundled it over the line to gift ATM the lead.
James doubled his side’s lead 10 minutes later after capitalising on an error by centre-back Safuwan Baharudin to hammer the ball past Izwan at the near post.
Shakir Hamzah had a great opportunity grab a goal in the dying minutes of the first half but his header off Shahfiq Ghani’s corner went over the bar.
But the tie turned on its head less than five minutes into the second half when Hafiz Abu Sujad scored a cracker of a goal from 30 yards out to give the LionsXII the lead on the away-goals rule.
However, it was James who had the last laugh when his free-kick in the 75th minute curled over the wall and into the back of the net, giving ATM a 3-1 lead on the night and more importantly, a 3-2 lead on aggregate.
To add insult to injury, he completed his hat-trick in the 85th minute after outmuscling three LionsXII defenders before seeing his shot trickle past the line.
ATM will play either Johor or Kelantan -- who play the second leg of their quarter-final Saturday -- in the semi-finals.
The LionsXII, on the other hand, are expected to break up after this as coach V Sundramoorthy and several players are tipped to join Malaysian Super League sides next season.