After dropping six precious points in the previous two games, Lions XII will be wary of a gusty Sarawak side whom they have beaten at the Sarawak State Satdium a few months ago.
The win came through a penalty goal, and it sparked outrage among the Sarawak fans whom felt the referee was one sided through the match.
This time around, the Lions will be playing at home, and they will surely want to ensure that they do not drop any more points against teams placed lower in the league, and in this case Sarawak.
V.Sundramoorthy is expected to have top scoring Shahril Ishak back in his line-up, but Juma’at Jantan is expected to be out injured.
Playing on an artificial pitch also gives the Lions much advantage as the speed of the ball and the game could force the visiting team to tire faster than usual.
If statistics were to be counted in, the Lions have the upper hand with the best striking force in the league, and an amazing six wins at home. They have only lost twice to Kelantan and Terengganu, both whom are teams the Crocs held when playing away.
Robert Alberts on the other hand is a worried man as he will be missing several key players. Import Joel Epalle and Sani Anuar are still nursing injuries, while Ashri Chuchu will not be available due to national call-up.
Zamri Morshidi is also listed as doubtful after being hard tackled in the previous game in Terengganu, and Hairol Mokhtar remains out due to suspension.
To make things worst, Alberts men will be playing on Stadium Jalan Besar’s artificial pitch which will see more physical strength required as the game tends to be faster and more technical.
However, Alberts has commented that the team will be flying in early to enable his boys to get accustomed to the pitch, and that his team has sufficient players to replace the regulars. This means the likes of Sharol Saperi, Khairul Azahar Eidros and Benedict Martin may be included in the team like when the team played Terengganu.
The Crocs have also been playing well outside of home with a record of three wins and two draws, only to be defeated to Perak and Sabah at the early stages of the league. They have since scared the likes of Kelantan, Selangor and Terengganu in their away games.
This match will be very interesting, and emotions among fans and players are expected to run high during the 90 minutes. Sarawak will come as the underdogs but the Lions will be sure not to underestimate this emerging Borneo side.
However, the Lions may be overconfident of winning this tie, while the Crocs would be determined to win to prove that the win by the Lions in Kuching was a fluke.
With that said, our biased opinion is that the Crocs will win this game by a single goal, revenging the defeat in Kuching.
Prediction: Lions XII 1-2 Sarawak