A weakened Singapore Lions XII are expecting a torrid time when they host an in–form Negeri Sembilan at the Jalan Besar Stadium today.
Fourth-placed Negeri, who have shone with strikers Jean-Emmanuel Owona of Cameroon and Mohd Shakir Ali being a constant menace to the opposition this season, will be bolstered by the return of inspirational national midfielder S. Kunalan from a two–match suspension.
Lions XII coach V. Sundramoorthy is hoping that defender Safuwan Baharuddin and midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman, who were rested against Selangor on Wednesday, will be fit to boost the depleted six-placed Singapore side.
They will also welcome back forwards Khairul Nizam and Fazli Ayob, who have both recovered from injuries.
But striker Khairul Amri, who suffered an ankle injury against Kuala Lumpur, is expected to undergo surgery and will be out for a spell.
The Lions are further weakened without the services of midfielder Firdaus Kasman, who was suspended indefinitely by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) for breaching their Code of Conduct & Professional Ethics.
Sundramoorthy said Negeri’s experience gave them the edge.
“Negeri have made a good start to the season with their strikers consistently finding the back of the net,” said the former Singapore international.
“They have an experienced coach in Azraai Khor and several seasoned players like Norhafiz Zamani Misbah and Mohd Shukor Adan.
“It will not be easy but we will go all out to earn full points in front of our fans.”
Sundramoorthy conceded that the Lions’ strikeforce are having a hard time getting on the scoresheet.
The Lions have netted only five times in their six league games, with the Deer boasting double the goal tally from the same number of matches.
“I admit our strikers are finding it hard and it is becoming a bit of a concern,” said the Lions XII coach.
“When the players are given a chance to play, they should use the opportunity to prove themselves.
“I’m not fully satisfied with their efforts and expect more, beginning with the match against Negeri.”