Singapore Football

John Wilkinson: Myanmar will overcome Lions

Raddy factor overplayed, but pace of his wingers will prove too much for Stange's defence

It should be a fascinating game between two sides with contrasting styles. Bernd Stange wants Singapore to play a possession-based game and to press the opponents when they have the ball.

Radojko Avramovic, the Myanmar coach and former Singapore trainer, is more concerned about results. He works relentlessly on his players and is never concerned with the media.

If Singapore get caught playing pedestrian football, Myanmar can get comfortable with their counter-attacking game. If Raddy's men can pickpocket the ball near the halfway line and attack with their pace, the Lions could be in trouble.

PACE

I just think that Myanmar have too much pace for Singapore. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm tipping Myanmar to win 2-1 and send the Lions crashing out of the tournament.

I'm looking at Myanmar's right winger Kyi Lin in particular. He is dynamic and quick, and not a lot of fullbacks in South-east Asia can deal with him. He is not fully fit, and I think Raddy will keep him fresh by relieving him of his defensive duties and asking right back David Htan not to overlap, instead.

Kyi Lin should be up against Shaiful Esah, who is very good on the ball and fantastic with set-pieces, but not a great athlete or a natural defender. Shaiful doesn't enjoy fast wingers running at him.

It would be better to go with Shakir Hamzah, who is more rugged and more willing to sit and defend, and Shaiful could be an option in the problematic left-wing position, where a glaring gap is waiting to be filled despite all the left-footed options.

Ismadi Mukhtar, despite his international inexperience, surprised me with a good game against Thailand. He didn't do anything wrong and has decent ability on the ball. But, like the other flank, he will be tested by Myanmar's speedy left winger Nanda Lin Kyaw Chit.

TACTICS

Then and now, Raddy uses pretty much the same tactics, which we call "up, back and through". It means the defence will play the ball straight to the strikers, who lay it back to the central midfielders, who will hit it over the opposing fullbacks, even without looking, for the wingers to cut in or cross.

It's what Mustafic Fahrudin and I used to practise repeatedly in training. It's simple and effective. Even when the ball goes out for a throw-in, we are able to press the opponents in the attacking third.

RADDY FACTOR

This has been over-exaggerated by the media because, once you cross over the white line, it is all about the players.

Of course, he is a great coach who guided Singapore superbly and he has that ability to manipulate the dressing room to make the players believe they can match anyone, even opponents who are clearly superior.

That's how Singapore managed to punch above their weight during his time here.

You never know what you're going to get with Raddy in the dressing room - either he is very soft spoken to the point you can't hear him, or he goes ballistic. There's nothing in between and it's good in a way because it keeps us on the edge.

He will never accept that another team are better. He made us feel we could always get something out of every match, and that's what he will bring to Myanmar.

WEAKNESSES

Myanmar are not as tactically disciplined as they should be. Ideally, the space between the centre backs shouldn't be more than 15 metres apart, and they shouldn't stand closer than 10 metres apart. 

I felt that the space between Aung Zaw and Win Min Htut, who aren't recognised centre backs, was too wide when they played Malaysia.

Singapore can exploit that space and I feel for all of Bernd's preference for possession, it doesn't hurt the Lions to play more direct at times, depending on the situation.

* Attacking midfielder John Wilkinson is a four-time S-League champion who played for Singapore under coach Radojko Avramovic. He is now a TV pundit. He was talking to David Lee.

"I hope I’m wrong, but I’m tipping Myanmar to win 2-1 and send the Lions crashing out of the tournament."

- John Wilkinson

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