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Football: LionsXII knocked out of Malaysia FA Cup

The LionsXII were knocked out of the Malaysia FA Cup on Saturday night after they suffered a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Pahang.

SINGAPORE – The LionsXII were knocked out of the Malaysia FA Cup on Saturday night after they suffered a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Pahang.

The Malaysian side – who also defeated Fandi Ahmad’s men in the Charity Shield-cum-season opener on January 17 – booked a spot in the semi-finals thanks to second-half goals from Hafiz Kamal and Azidan Sarudin.

Safuwan Baharudin pulled one back for the LionsXII in the 86th minute but it was too little, too late.

The result also ended the Singaporean side’s 16-match unbeaten run at home, which lasted 18 months.

The LionsXII started the game brightly but Pahang began to assert themselves from the tenth minute as the Singaporean side struggled to hold on to possession in midfield.

The visitors nearly took the lead in the 19th minute but Singapore national goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud pulled off a brilliant double save to deny Mohd Azamuddin and Matias Conti.

That scare seemed to spark the LionsXII to life, and the home side poured forward and thought they earned a penalty in the 43rd minute after forward Khairul Amri went down following a challenge by Damion Stewart. The referee however saw nothing wrong with the challenge and waved play on.

The best chance of the first-half arrived two minutes later. Khairul connected cleanly with Faritz Hameed’s cross from the right but his volley cannoned off the post to the dismay of the Jalan Besar crowd.

Both sides continued to play attacking football when play resumed and it was Pahang who took the lead.

Midfielder Hafiz Kamal took full advantage of a free-kick on the edge of the area to curl a beauty past Izwan and silence the home crowd. Barely three minutes later, Azidan Sarudin scored his first goal of the season with a long-range shot to double his side’s lead.

LionsXII coach Fandi brought on Gabriel Quak and Sufian Anuar in a bid to improve his side’s fortunes but wasteful finishing from the attacking duo prevented the home side from getting back in the game. Safuwan Baharudin also came close to pulling one back for the LionsXII but his header was cleared off the line by Pahang’s Jamaican defender Damion Stewart.

The LionsXII pulled one back in the 86th minute after Safuwan’s free-kick bounced off the back of Pahang’s goalkeeper Khairul Azhan and into the back of the net.

The LionsXII's next match will be a league tie against Terengganu FA on February 8 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

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