# Fandi Ahmad still sees hope despite 4-1 defeat in Kuantan

# No Singapore team in M-League next year

# FAM’s timing in announcing the non-renewal of MOU questioned


Hours after defending champions Pahang crushed Lions XII 4-1 in the first-leg quarter-final of the Malaysia Cup in Kuantan on Tuesday the Singapore outfit received the dreaded news that Singapore will not see a team participate in next year’s M-League.

It came as a shock and surprise to many as there was no inkling that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) signed would not be renewed.

The FAS released a statement on Wednesday evening following the announcement by FAM acting president Datuk Afandi Hamzah after the FAM executive council met in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

“Following a series of discussions over the past one year – with the most recent meeting held in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month – the FAM informed us earlier this evening that they would not renew the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which was signed in 2011.

“We agree with the FAM that the collaboration between both Associations during the few years has been successful.

“One of the key components of the MOU is the participation of a team in each other’s league. Following the expiry of the MOU, the Lions XII and Harimau Muda will no longer participate in the Malaysian Super League and S.League respectively from 2016 onwards.

“Our immediate priority is to assist the Lions XII players and backroom staff and we will be meeting them over the next few days.”

During their brief stint in the M-League the Lions won the Super League title in 2013 under coach V. Sundramoorthy and the FA Cup this year.

Putting that aside, Lions XII head coach Fandi Ahmad, is preparing his team for this Saturday’s return-leg at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore. It would be the last match for the Lions if they cannot overturn the 4-1 score at home.

Fandi, however, believes that the crucial away goal scored by Safuwan Baharudin in Kuantan is a lifeline to ride on for his team.

“The battle is far from over. There is still another half of the match to be played and we will have the home crowd and home advantage to cheer us. We will give out best,” said Fandi, Singapore famous footballing son who plied his professional football in Indonesia, Holland and Malaysia.

Fandi admitted that it was a “below performance” by his team in Kuantan and Pahang took their chances well to score four.

The Lions XII are the defending FA Cup champions when they beat Kelantan 3-1 in the final and in the process wrote football history as the first foreign team to win the title.

A place in the semi-finals is still within reach of Lions XII and Pahang will not have it easy on the artificial turf – a fact which Pahang coach Zainal Abidin Hassan acknowledged.

“We cannot afford to concede an early goal on Saturday. Despite the 4-1 win it was not easy for my team. The Lions were not at their best in Kuantan  and I expect them to come at us in the return-leg,” said Zainal.

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