Nil eyes improvement against Lions

Nil Maizar admits his Indonesia side will have to up their play if they are to get anything out of Wednesday's AFF Suzuki Cup Group B game against Singapore.

The 21-year-old proving to be a tricky customer.

By ESPNSTAR.com staff

Indonesia kicked off their bid to win Southeast Asia's premier international tournament on Sunday with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Laos, needing an 89th-minute equaliser from substitute Vendry Mofu to avoid an embarassing loss.

The Lions, on the other hand, could not have wished for a better start as they thumped arch-rivals Malaysia 3-0, and Nil is aware his side cannot afford the same kind of performance at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Wednesday.

"Singapore are in good confidence after the 3-0 win against Malaysia in the first game," he said.

"They obviously have many experienced players like Shahril [Ishak], Baihakki [Khaizan] and also [Daniel] Bennett but we hope to give a good performance tomorrow [Wednesday], better than we did against Laos."

The former Semen Padang boss also conceded the Lions would pose a real physical threat and understands that his charges will have to give it their all in order to get the desired result.

"Singapore players in all positions are physically good," Nil added. "We will make sure we defend but that's not how we play our game.

"To win, the players must show character against Singapore tomorrow [Wednesday] and work really hard."

Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic admits it was important for his side to start with a win, but hopes it will give them the belief that they can achieve their goals for the tournament.

"It was an advantage for us to get the three points in the first game," he said. "We are a positive team.

"I trust my players and they trust me. What is most important now is that they believe in themselves."

The Serb does however believe Merah Putih will pose a real threat to Singapore on Wednesday given the good blend of youth and experience in their opponents' squad.

"Indonesia have experienced players from the last few AFF Suzuki Cups," Avramovic added.

"This time, they have extra qualities with the inclusion of a few naturalised players and also young players.

"When we have played Indonesia before in this tournament, they were not easy games. All I can say is if we allow them to play, we will be in trouble.

"We forget about our past record [against Indonesia] and focus on the current game."

A win for Singapore will guarantee them a place in the semi-finals, while defeat for Indonesia would make it their route to the last four very tricky, especially given their last group game is against Malaysia.


ESPN STAR Sports will broadcast all 18 matches with the most extensive online coverage on the AFF Suzuki Cup. Check espnstar.com (espnstar.my or espnstar.co.id) for local TV listing & breaking news. Follow us on Twitter @espn_star (or @espnstarmy, @espnstarid) for the latest updates from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.




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