Sundram calls for goals and discipline against Qatar
National coach wants Lions to step up against Qatar before Asian Cup qualifier against Turkmenistan
He has overseen just two victories in 17 attempts as the national coach and V Sundramoorthy knows that for Singapore to keep alive the dream of playing at the 2019 Asian Cup, that record must improve quickly.
Sundram's Lions have struggled to find the back of the net, and much work has been put into that.
When Singapore face Qatar in tonight's international friendly at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Sundram will demand for goals and tactical discipline - two factors that will be key in the Group E qualifier against Turkmenistan in Ashgabat next Tuesday.
"We haven't been scoring much recently, so yes, goals are definitely a concern for us," Sundram told The New Paper in a phone interview from Doha yesterday.
"We have been working on other avenues of getting goals (rather than just from the forwards). We are trying to get our wingbacks to go forward and get goals, and encouraging goals from midfield, too.
"We've been working on set-pieces as well. We need sharper runs to the near and far posts, and better deliveries from corners and free-kicks."
Left wingback Shakir Hamzah scored Singapore's goal in the 1-1 draw with Turkmenistan at the Jalan Besar Stadium last month.
The result left Singapore stranded at the bottom of Group E, with just two points from three games.
SECOND IN SIGHT
But victory against Turkmenistan next week could see the Lions leapfrog the Central Asians into second spot.
There are just three games left in the qualifying campaign for Singapore to earn the ticket to the 2019 Asian Cup Finals in the United Arab Emirates.
Against Qatar, Sundram will keep the 3-4-3 formation that proved effective against Turkmenistan last month, with Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri and Fazrul Nawaz the trio charged with leading the attack.
"Faris, Amri and Fazrul will be our frontline against Qatar, and I want to see them interchanging positions to create space and opportunities for us," said Sundram.
"Watching Amri in the last 10 days, I have to say that he is back to being himself, and we will give him enough time in this game, but also keep him fresh enough for Turkmenistan."
Sundram is also looking for tactical discipline from his charges, even as they pour forward to create scoring chances.
"In this formation, we can push up and attack, but we can also defend in numbers, and be compact," added Sundram, who turns 52 tomorrow.
"That is important, as we obviously don't want to open up against teams who can punish us."
The former Singapore international will be without two of his first-choice wingbacks in Shakir (hip injury) and Nazrul Nazari (family commitments), and he is using the Qatar friendly to test their replacements.
Hafiz Sujad is likely to deputise on the left, with Geylang International defender Faritz Hameed coming in on the right.
"Qatar are very tough opponents, but this allows us to see these boys step up, it's an opportunity to be tested," said Sundram of the team ranked 85th in the Fifa world order, 77 spots above Singapore.
"The most important thing is that we have a chance to look at our system and test players against good opponents, because we want to play in a similar way against Turkmenistan."
LIONS' PROBABLE LINE-UP
- Hassan Sunny, Madhu Mohana, Daniel Bennett, Zulfahmi Arifin, Faritz Hameed, Shahdan Sulaiman, Hariss Harun, Hafiz Sujad, Fazrul Nawaz, Khairul Amri, Faris Ramli