Sundram: We need to get some good results
Lions need to step up and perform against HK ahead of crucial qualifier against Turkmenistan
In name, it is a friendly match, a platform to test systems and personnel ahead of a crucial Asian Cup qualifier.
Singapore take on Hong Kong at the Jalan Besar Stadium in an international friendly tonight, in preparation for Tuesday's Group E qualifier against Turkmenistan.
But there is much more at stake.
"Looking at what's happening (in the Singapore football scene), the national team need to step up and get some good results, we know that," said national coach V Sundramoorthy matter-of-factly yesterday.
The 51-year-old did not elaborate, but the situation is all too clear for any football fan to see.
Singapore have sunk to 171st in the Fifa world rankings, putting them among the 40 worst countries on the planet. The Fifa ladder features 211 countries.
Between 2014 and 2016, the Republic's age-group sides managed only 10 wins in 62 matches, a statistic that points to a steady decline in the pipeline that feeds the already struggling senior national side.
The national Under-22 side's early exit at the group stages of the SEA Games football competition in Kuala Lumpur only reaffirms this.
The future of the S.League also hangs in the balance, with sources revealing that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) may well have to shut it down at the end of this season as it plans a revamp.
This is because the Tote Board that funds the league to a tune of $16 million annually is considering cutting it by half.
We didn’t do well against Taiwan, and we need to bounce back.National coach V Sundramoorthy
Sources revealed that FAS officials held critical meetings with Sport Singapore yesterday to present its future plans for the league.
A positive result against Hong Kong can only help the situation.
"We talk about (the state of Singapore football) all the time, and we want to win every single game (to help the situation), and the only thing we can do is to learn from previous games and move on," said Lions midfielder Hariss Harun, pointing to the national team's 2-1 Group E defeat by Taiwan in June.
Expecting a physical encounter against Turkmenistan, Sundram has put his charges through some tough training sessions this past week, and Hariss asserts that his teammates' mentality in training is an indication of just how much the Lions are up for the challenge.
"We have been training for a week now, and no one is moaning about how tough it is," said the 26-year-old.
"We are together, but what can bring about a positive boost, not only to the team but also for Singapore football, is for us to go out there and get a good result (against Hong Kong) and put some points on the board (against Turkmenistan)."
Hong Kong sit 25 spots above Singapore in the Fifa rankings, and will not be easy opponents, considering the fact that Sundram is still searching for a formula that could work in competitive matches.
"Hong Kong are a physically strong team and similar to Turkmenistan, and the game will give us a good indication of how we will do in that match," said Sundram, who has dropped a few national team regulars such as Tampines Rovers goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud and winger Gabriel Quak.
"The boys started the (Asian Cup qualifying campaign) well against Bahrain, but we didn't do well against Taiwan, and we need to bounce back," added the former Singapore international.
"The Hong Kong game is a preparation game and, while we know results are important, I want to see the performance of the team for Turkmenistan.
"That match is vital, and we must get points there to put ourselves back in the running for the qualifiers."
- Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny, Syazwan Buhari, Zaiful Nizam.
- Defenders: Daniel Bennett, Ho Wai Loon, Irfan Fandi, Madhu Mohana, Shakir Hamzah, Mustafic Fahrudin, Nazrul Nazari, Emmeric Ong.
- Midfielders: Hariss Harun, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Shahril Ishak, Zulfahmi Arifin, Faris Ramli, Izzdin Shafiq, Safuwan Baharudin, Yasir Hanapi, Shawal Anuar, Shahdan Sulaiman.
- Forwards: Fazrul Nawaz, Ikhsan Fandi, Khairul Amri