Recently crowned champions of the Malaysian Super League, the Lions XII continue their winning streak. We speak with V Sundramoorthy, coach and legend
By Chia Hui Jun & Lester J Wan
On Jul 2, in front of a Singaporean home crowd at the Jalan Besar Stadium, a young Lions XII football team sealed a historic victory against Felda United (of Malaysia) with a 4-0 thumping to clinch the Malaysian Super League (MSL) championship.
V Sundramoorthy, coach and legend, shares with us on what made it special and how the winning streak continues.
A Special Win
What made the win sweeter was that the Lions XII team mostly consisted of players aged 23 and below, who were competing in a league of professionals and stars.
The last time Singapore had won the Malaysian Premier League, and Cup, was with the legendary class of 1994. Since then, Singapore had not competed in the Malaysian league until recently.
2013 & 1994
Most Singaporeans who have been following the national team for some time will undoubtedly compare the two wins.
Coach Sundram is succinct but clear. He says, “The difference is that we have won the MSL with young players.”
“I’m proud of their dedication, commitment, desire and winning mentality,” he adds.
Sundram’s best moment this season was when the Lions XII came from a goal down to beat Terengganu 2-1. It was certainly a hard-fought win.
He counts “winning the MSL with the Lions XII at the Jalan Besar Stadium with the support of our home fans” as his favourite footballing moment. Even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was present to cheer them on.
Win After Win
The Singapore Under-23s’ winning streak did not stop there as they went on to win 1-0 in a friendly match against Indonesia on Jul 13. This win was also significant as it was a young team of 24 players aged 23 and below who have to juggle school and National Service commitments.
The team was put together to prepare for December’s SEA Games in Myanmar.
Sundram lists Faris Ramli, Shahfiq Ghani, Nazrul Nazari, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Aqhari Abdullah and Izzdin Shafiq as up and coming players to look out for, as they stood out this season.
“We have many young players coming up the ranks, and the future looks bright,” says Sundram.
Being one of Singapore’s most skilful players ever, who does “the Dazzler” think is the most skilful player now? Sundram singles out captain and talisman Shahril Ishak as the most skilful national player currently.
This National Day, we wish Sundram and the team all the best. May they continue to do Singapore proud.