FOUR-STAR SHOW: Lions sink Felda to clinch Super League title
LIONSXII were crowned Super League champions yesterday after a convincing 4-0 win over Felda United at Jalan Besar Stadium, signaling Singapore's first triumph since returning to the M-League last season.
Captain Shahril Ishak was outstanding in the second half with a goal and two assists.
After a drab first half, Lions opened the floodgates courtesy of spectacular own goal by defender Azrul Azmi, who headed Shahril's free kick past his goalkeeper Rozaimie Rohim in the 47th minute.
Shahril then netted the second after a Felda defender failed to clear a harmless Faris Ramli's cross 11 minutes later.
Sloppy defending again resulted in a goal when Shahril gained possession at the left side of the box before laying the ball to Fazrul Nawaz, who finished it off in the 61st minute.
Hafiz Sujad then threaded a glorious through-ball to Shahfiq Ghani to complete the rout in the 84th minute.
"This is a great achievement. We had endured many challengers and I am glad that my young team displayed nerves of steel to overcome them and win this title," said the delighted Lions coach V. Sundramoorthy.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and FA of Malaysia (FAM) general-secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin presented the Lions, comprising mostly Under-23 players, the trophy and the winner's cheque of RM750,000.
Their win, however, is a huge embarrassment to some Malaysian teams, who splashed on national players and big name foreign signings.
Lions' near perfect home record, where they earned 31 points from 11 matches at Jalan Besar Stadium, was the contributing factor to their achievement.
Sundramoorthy used only five senior players in his team, who are using the league to prepare for the Myanmar Sea Games in December.
Singapore were a dominant force in the M-League before they were denied further participation after winning the league and the Malaysia Cup in 1994.