Press Releases ● Nov 28, 2015

Lionsxii End Malaysian Journey



SINGAPORE, 28 NOVEMBER 2015: The LionsXII concluded its season with a 2-0 win over defending champions Pahang in the second leg of the 2015 Malaysia Cup quarter-final, but lost 3-4 on aggregate.

Despite the LionsXII’s determination, it was never an easy task to overturn a three-goal deficit against Pahang, one of the top teams in Malaysia, which is seeking to clinch its third Malaysia Cup in a row after its triumphs in 2013 and 2014.

Head Coach Fandi Ahmad said: “I’ve always said that it is not easy to play against teams with four foreigners – especially the experienced and physically strong players such as Dickson Nwakaeme, Zesh Rehman, Matias Conti and Damion Stewart.

“However, we are proud of our performance during the past four years. Apart from the 2013 MSL and 2015 FA Cup success, one recent media report pointed out that only Kelantan and Pahang have collected more silverware than us – an all-local side – during this period.”

Summarising the LionsXII’s participation in the Malaysian league and cup competitions during the past four years, Coach Fandi said: “It has been a positive journey for our players who have benefitted from the exposure, and also in playing together as a team. The development of players has always been a key objective for us, and my officials and I are happy to see the likes of Nazrul Nazari, Zulfahmi Arifin, Madhu Mohana and Christopher van Huizen, among others, progressing to the National Team where they are now key players.”

Echoing similar sentiments, LionsXII captain Izwan Madmud said: “Many of us, including Gabriel Quak, Hafiz Sujad, Faritz Hameed and Khairul Nizam, graduated from the National Football Academy and thereafter joined the Young Lions, where we played together for several years. The establishment of the LionsXII enabled us to play in a foreign league, where we experienced different challenges which made us tougher and stronger. It was a four-year partnership agreement and we knew there was a possibility it may not be renewed. We will use the positives gained during the past few years and will continue to work towards becoming better players as we continue our footballing journey – whether in our professional S.League which is just as competitive, or overseas.”

Izwan continued: “On behalf of my teammates, both past and present, I want to thank the fans who are always behind us. It was a full-house turnout tonight and we deeply appreciate the support. However, it’s not just tonight. The sight of some 6,000 fans supporting us at Jalan Besar Stadium on match days over the past few years has always been a key motivation for us whenever we stepped onto the pitch. There are also many who travelled to the various states to support us during the past four years.

“No amount of words can sufficiently express our gratitude to our fans and we hope that you will continue to support Singapore football and our teams. We are also thankful to the FAS and its management and staff for their strong support and dedication all these years, without which we would not have been successful not only in terms of results but also in bringing the fans together.”

Veteran tour operator Akbar Hashim, who has been organising trips overseas to support the National Team and the LionsXII, said: “There has never been a doubt that our participation in the Malaysian Super League would end someday, especially since it was a Memorandum of Understanding for four years. Of course, I share the view by many that the FAM should have made the announcement much earlier and in a more respectful manner. But it’s time to look forward.

“The LionsXII has been a successful project and the key target in developing more young players has been fulfilled by the coaching staff over the past four years. Many players in the team were developed through the FAS’ youth development system, including the National Football Academy and the Young Lions, and we look forward to them becoming better players in the coming years. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the FAS for their strong support and close collaboration with our fans over the years, and I look forward to bringing more fans together to support Singapore football.”

FAS General Secretary Winston Lee said: “We are grateful and humbled by the support from our stakeholders and fans over the years. In addition to the fans who turned up at Jalan Besar Stadium on match days or had watched the ‘live’ action on television, we are encouraged by many Singaporeans who would extend their well-wishes to our officials and players in public places including the airports – both in Singapore and Malaysia, the hawker centres and hotels, among various places. Football has the ability to bring people from all walks of life together and the National Teams, LionsXII and the S.League, have played a key role in doing so.

“On behalf of my colleagues, we would like to thank our sponsors and partners, including StarHub, Kingsmen, Silkpro, Nike and others, and the media for their staunch support and commitment towards the LionsXII.”

“As we have always emphasised, the participation of the LionsXII in a foreign league is one of the components of our strategy aimed at developing our young players – several of whom are now attracting interest from foreign clubs. Moving ahead, we will continue to place as the key priority the development of our players and we humbly seek the continued support of all our stakeholders. Once again, we would like to thank everyone for the support towards the LionsXII during the past four years,” he concluded.