Barely deserving of the three points they gained from a 3-2 win over nine-man Pahang on Friday, Armed Forces can ill-afford to repeat the defensive horror show they put on in the first half of the Premier League match at the Petaling Jaya Stadium on Friday.
Pahang, who fell to their first defeat, had Forces in sixes and sevens at the back before the visitors had centre-back Saifulnizam Miswan sent off in the 75th minute and substitute Christie Jayaseelan took full advantage to score the winner nine minutes later.
Twice before Forces led but a shaky display by Amirizwan Taj Tajudin in the centre of defence allowed Pahang to equalise each time before Forces coach B. Sathianathan withdrew the centre-back at half-time and sent on A. Varanthan as Irwan Fadzli Idrus resumed his partnership with Aidil Zafuan Radzak.
"He was not at his best and had not played for some time. I thought I'd mix it up a little in defence but with Pahang coming from all angles, he lost concentration and could not cope.
"But he is still a good player and will improve in time," said Sathianathan of the 25-year-old Amirizwan, who earned a surprise national call up and his first international cap in Malaysia's 1-1 draw with India last year.
The win took Forces back to the top of the standings after suffering their first defeat in a replayed 2-1 defeat to Sime Darby on Jan 21 though Pahang's indiscipline did them a huge favour.
Bruno Martelotto slotted home a ninth-minute penalty after Saifulnizam fouled Marlon Alex James in the box and the Pahang defender was lucky to remain on the field when he appeared to shove and flash an obscene gesture at referee Amirul Izwan Yaacob, who only showed him a yellow card.
Saifulnizam, who also struck the bar in the second half, headed Pahang level in the 15th minute before James, who squandered three great chances in the first half, regained Forces' lead for his seventh goal of the season five minutes later only for Pahang to equalise again on the half-hour mark after Azamuddin Akil easily turned Amirizwan and shot past Farizal Harun.
Christie's winner came after Saifulnizam was given his marching orders for a tackle-from-behind on James and Pahang were reduced to nine men when Shahrizan Salleh blatantly handled in the middle of the field as Forces were breaking forward in the 90th minute.