Singapore football coach Sundram begins work
New Lions coach rallies players as he gives a glimpse of team's style of play
He described his appointment as a dream come true.
But it was very much business as usual for new national coach V Sundramoorthy yesterday, as he took his first training session with the Lions following the announcement of his appointment a day earlier.
He arrived two hours before training was scheduled to start at the Geylang Field and, after a quick drink at the coffeshop next door, got down to work.
The 50-year-old held a briefing with his coaching team as the players started to stream in.
After emerging from his conference, Sundram made it a point to go round the facility to shake hands with each player.
His main message to the squad was that everyone was valuable in his eyes.
"This is a good bunch of boys who are willing to work hard," he told The New Paper, later.
"I spoke to them and told them we are all together, and we need to work with one another.
"The most important thing is the team."
The squad were also greeted by Football Association of Singapore bigwigs Lim Kia Tong (vice-president), Winston Lee (general secretary) and Michel Sablon (technical director), with Lim delivering a short message of encouragement to the team before training started.
When it was time to get to work, the players strapped on heart-rate monitors and then had their first experience of working with new fitness coach Balder Berckmans, who helped them work up a sweat.
Then, they started working with the ball, with Sundram urging his men to play crisp passes in one drill, before carrying out a two-sided possession exercise.
It was clear this would be the philosophy adopted by the new Lions boss.
Said Sundram: "Fitness is one part of the game.
"The other, and to me most important, is keeping possession of the ball.
"If we lose the ball cheaply, that's when problems come.
"Right now, the boys are in season, so generally their fitness levels are okay.
"But, leading up to the Suzuki Cup, I think we need more centralised training sessions and camps to get it up another level."
He told TNP in an interview after his appointment at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday that he has made plans to take the team on training camps overseas in preparation for November's Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, with the Middle East and Japan possible destinations.
The Suzuki Cup, which will be co-hosted by Myanmar and the Philippines, will be Sundram's biggest test and he has set the Lions a semi-final target.
Singapore had a dismal outing the last time round under Sundram's predecessor Bernd Stange, as they were knocked out in the opening group stage on home soil in a sorry defence of the title they won in 2012.
Sundram vouched for the current crop of Lions.
"I just need the boys to stay focused and understand what we want in training, and transfer that into games," he said.
"If we can do that, we'll be okay."
- Sundram's Lions will be playing in the AYA Bank Cup, an international quadrangular tournament, in Myanmar from June 3 to 6. The squad leave for Yangon on Wednesday, and play the hosts on Friday. Depending on results, Singapore will then play either Hong Kong or Vietnam on June 6.