Boring, not roaring, Lions
Lions poor again, but defiant Stange says target has been met
(Faris Ramli 16, Fazrul Nawaz 47)
(Sos Suhana 65)
It was a single word, heard first from a lone fan, then picked up and chanted by others as they dragged their feet out of the National Stadium last night - boring.
Bernd Stange's Singapore side did fashion chances, they did beat Cambodia 2-1 in the World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers, and they managed to hit their target of 10 points to join leaders Japan (at press time) atop Group E.
But the Lions' performance last night, and in last Thursday's 1-0 win over Afghanistan, almost certainly failed to convince their following they are a side worth the fuss.
Addressing the media after the game, coach Stange agreed that his side lacked sparkle.
"It was boring for me as well, especially as we could not use our chances (to score)," said the German, who admitted to being scared that the Cambodians, 29 spots below 157th-ranked Singapore in the Fifa standings, would manage to pull off a draw in the dying moments.
"I've said it again and again and again - there is a long way to go for Singapore football to reach the next level.
"You can see that we still don't have the quality to kick a team like Cambodia by four or five goals out of our stadium."
Faris Ramli opened the scoring in the 16th minute, tapping in a Safuwan Baharudin knock-on off a Madhu Mohana long-throw.
Two minutes before the break, Khairul Amri saw his penalty brilliantly saved by Um Sereirath in the Cambodia goal.
Substitute Fazrul Nawaz, who came on for the injured Amri for the second half, did manage to extend the lead when he gleefully accepted a calamitous pass by a Cambodian defender and rifled home his effort.
While Sos Suhana scored with a cheeky 65th minute back-heel to give the visitors a glimmer of hope, the Cambodians hardly caused the Lions any real danger after that.
Singapore had a total of 16 goal attempts, but they contrived to miss a hatful of chances in front of 9,417 fans.
With Japan (Nov 12) and Syria (Nov 17) still to come here, the ability of Cambodia to look decent last night is a worry, but Stange stayed defiant.
"I don't really understand why I have to apologise to everybody that we have 10 points. Should I sit here and apologise for that? I won't describe it as quality, definitely not
"But we've achieved exactly what we wanted, six points from two home games," said the 67-year-old.
"I know what will happen in the next couple of weeks - the pressure of media and fans will increase.
"I have only one job to do, to take the pressure from the team, let them play football, let them show what they are able to deliver.
"Hopefully we have a full stadium, and we can play with 12 players."
He said that even against Japan and Syria, another six home points had to be the target, but achieving two draws "will be a dream".
"How we do it is another thing. It will be extremely difficult... we have to play much, much better," he said.
There are some positives from last night, with Hariss Harun back in the engine room and looking strong, while Safuwan also returned from suspension and a constant danger at set-pieces with his heading ability.
But Amri's hamstring injury - he was carried off on a stretcher in the 45th minute - is a real cause for worry.
"We are still not at the level we want to be - our football as an ecosystem... (but) besides Baihakki Khaizan (31) and Amri (30), the rest of the team are young, they will learn, they will grow," said Stange. "(Fans) should come and support us, we need our fans."
TEAMS & LIONS' RATINGS
- SINGAPORE: Izwan Mahbud 7, Nazrul Nazari 6, Madhu Mohana 6.5, Baihakki Khaizan 6.5, Shakir Hamzah 6, Hariss Harun 7.5, Izzdin Shafiq 6.5, Sahil Suhaimi 5.5 (Yasir Hanapi 72), Safuwan Baharudin 7 (Shahril Ishak 82) 6, Faris Ramli 7, Khairul Amri 5.5 (Fazrul Nawaz 46) 7
- MYANMAR: Um Sereirath, Soeuy Visal, Sam Oeun Pidor, Hoy Phallin (Bin Chanthacheary 54), Kouch Sokumpheak, Chan Vatanaka, Sos Suhana, Nub Tola, Keo Sokpheng (Prak Mony Udom 83), Chhin Chhoeun, Nhim Sovannara (Nen Sothearoth 51)
- Attendance: 9,417
- Referee: Kim Dae Yong (Kor)
- Rating: 6.5/10
0 - Offsides
7 - Corners
16 - Total Shots
7 - On Target
9 - Off Target
0 - Yellow cards
1 - Offsides
0 - Corners
4 - Total Shots
4 - On Target
0 - Off Target
2 - Yellow cards
TNP MAN OF THE MATCH
He is the best in the middle of the park. While hardly close to his best displays for the Lions, Hariss is sturdy in defence and always willing to go forward. He constantly tries to get the attack going. He will need to be at his best if the Lions are to survive the group.