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Sunday, January 22, 2012

LionsXII edge out Sabah 1-0 for second MSL win in a row
By Les Tan/Red Sports
Hariss Harun scored the only goal of the game in the first half to give the LionsXII their first away victory of the MSL season. His header took a deflection and was officially credited as an own goal. (Photo © Les Tan/Red Sports archive)
Likas Stadium, Saturday, January 21, 2012 — The Singapore LionsXII beat Sabah 1-0 for their second win of the 2012 Malaysian Super League (MSL) campaign.
Hariss Harun (#14), playing in a central defensive role, rose unchallenged to meet a Shahdan Sulaiman (#8) free kick to head the ball into goal via a deflection off Sabah defender Mafry Balang (#2). The goal was officially considered an own goal but that did not stop the celebration of the Lions who were playing in their blue away strip for the first time this season.
Sabah, playing in front of a 10,000-strong home crowd, had their best chance in the 32nd minute. Sabah carved open the LionsXII defense with a one-two that saw Michael Baird through on goal in the penalty box with only LionsXII goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud to beat. However, Isa Halim popped up to make a great block to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Then came two sending offs that changed the complexion of the game. Mafry Balang and Irwan Shah (#19) threw punches at each other as they continued tussling for the ball even after it went out of play and referee Azhar Ahmad gave both players a straight red card.
The sending offs gave a momentary extra edge to the game as Sabah searched for an equaliser but the LionsXII were able to take their 1-0 lead into the half-time break.
The second half was mostly one-way traffic with the home side taking the attacking initiative and the LionsXII content to sit back and soak it up. The LionsXII were only content to attack on the break, and they played like they were the only side with a man sent off.

Sabah had two excellent chances to level the game in the second half. The first, in the 58th minute, saw Bobby Sumardi (#10) hit a pile driver that Izwan managed to get his finger tips to. The second, Fariss (#6) climbed the highest to meet a corner but his on-target header was gathered by Izwan in the 63rd minute.
Sufian Anuar then had an excellent chance to kill the game off for the LionsXII in the 88th minute but with more time than he realised, he decided to go for the spectacular volley when an extra touch to pull down the cross would have set him up nicely for a shot with only the keeper to beat.
Nonetheless, the LionsXII win their second game in a row and bag the three points. A win is still a win, although the negative defensive tactics in the second half will probably not please the fans.
Final Score
Sabah 0 LionsXII 1
Singapore — Mafry (OG 21′)
Singapore LionsXII Starting Lineup
Izwan Mahbud (GK), Baihakki Khaizan, Hariss Harun, Shakir Rahman, Irwan Shah, Juma’at Jantan, Firdaus Kasman (Taufiq Rahmat), Isa Halim, Yasir Hanapi, Shahdan Sulaiman, Shahril Ishak (Sufian Anuar)
Substitutes: Hyrulnizam Jumaat (GK), Fazli Ayob, Madhu Mohana, Taufiq Rahmat, Shahir Hamzah, Raihan Rahman, Sufian Anuar
Sabah Starting Lineup
Azizon (GK), Mafry, Sumardi Harjalan, Ronny Harun, Reithudin, Fariss, Brendan Gan, Michael Baird, Bobby Gonzales, Thanaraj, Shahrudin
Substitutes: Adney (GK), Rosdin, Shahrul, Radzi, Jufery, Leopold, Rozaimi

Sabah vs LionsXII

Match Statistics
6Shots on Target1
7Shots off Target2
13Total shots3
1Yellow Cards2
1Red Cards1
11Corner Kicks4

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