With their backs up against the wall, Singapore must now approach their penultimate group game against Timor-Leste in the AFF Suzuki Cup with a must-win mindset, and look to rack up the goals.
The Lions are third in Group B with Thailand and Philippines ahead of them. Wednesday’s game at the Singapore National Stadium has become a crucial one for the Lions, with goal difference likely to decide the group.
The 1-0 victory over Indonesia put Fandi Ahmad’s charges in pole position but they were brought back down to earth in Bacolod as the Azkals nailed them by the same margin.
With that said, assistant coach S. Subramani reckoned there is no need to put extra pressure on the players because they know what is at stake in terms of making it out of the group.
“I’m sure the boys are aware of how important this game is not only for the team, but for Singapore football as well,” Subramani told FOX Sports Asia.
“We have some ideas (tactically) on how we want to play (against Timor-Leste) and will try them out in training these few days. One thing is for sure, we will put a team out there who want to win and also score goals.
“Looking at the group standings, it might end up with goal difference. So against Timor, we expect a hard game but we need to go into it with the attitude of scoring more goals. This will set us up nicely for the Thai game.”
Having won the coveted regional title thrice – 1998, 2004 and 2007 – Mani is no stranger to this tournament. Every Southeast Asian nation aspires to win the crown and for a country like Singapore who have done well at the showpiece event, expectations are always high.
“Whether you play home or away, there is always pressure on us because we are Singapore. Whether you win or lose, this tournament mode means you have less than a week to prepare for the next game and you have to be ready for it,” Subramani added.
“The key thing we have in this team unlike the last two campaigns is unity. In any winning team, you need to see the harmony and it is very evident in this squad.
“Especially when we travel abroad, you can see how united they are and how they are willing to work for one another. Most importantly, the happy faces have returned after so long which inspires and motivates us in the technical team.”
While it is important not to underestimate Timor-Leste, the Lions must surely have an eye on the do-or-die encounter at the Rajamangala Stadium in six days’ time.
The War Elephants are cruising at the moment with nine goals scored and two conceded in two matches. Striker Adisak Kraisorn is leading the Golden Boot race with seven goals while Sanrawat Dechmitr is putting in incredible performances in midfield.
Fandi’s charges will be hoping Thailand get maximum points in Bacolod on Wednesday which may see Milovan Rajevac field a second-string team in the clash against Singapore.
“Playing Thailand in Thailand will always be difficult not just for us but any team. It is difficult but not impossible,” remarked the former Home United star.
“As coaches, we can only prepare the players well and once they cross the white line onto the pitch, it is up to them to show the character and desire to win the game.”