National coach Stange calls for more fan support
Fans, we need your help to make the new National Stadium a "Cauldron of Fear".
That was the plea from national coach Bernd Stange after a Singapore Selection side went down 5-0 to a star-studded Juventus team at the 55,000-capacity stadium last night.
The German responded to The New Paper's question about what it took for the National Stadium to become a fortress for the Lions, as they embark on the defence of their AFF Suzuki Cup title there in November.
"We need supporters and a full-house stadium, then it can be a Cauldron of Fear for our opponents," he said.
Only 27,338 fans turned up to watch the historic first football match at the new stadium, and Stange said: "30,000, I'm not very proud.
"It's good but it's the first (football) event at the new stadium and it should be full.
"It's the first time for me, as a coach, to play against a team like Juventus and not have a capacity crowd.
"We are still far away... there were 100,000 fans in Indonesia and a capacity crowd in Australia (watching Juventus' other games on their Asia Pacific tour)
"We have to convince our fans to come and see football. Watch football in Woodlands, watch football in Tampines."
Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny agreed.
The shot-stopper made several blinding saves last night, earning lavish praise from two-goal Bianconeri forward Sebastien Giovinco.
Said Hassan: "This was our first match at the new National Stadium, so I hope the fans who came are satisfied with our effort, and understand we were playing against World Cup players and international stars.
"Hopefully, those who watched us on television will also appreciate what they saw and come down to the stadium and support us next time because we need them to make the stadium intimidating."
National skipper Shahril Ishak added: "I remember being part of Suzuki Cup-winning teams in 2004 and 2007 and the packed stands at the old National Stadium.
"With 60,000 fans behind us, the players feel like we are a match for any team."
Stange, who took over the reins of the national team in May last year, said he hoped the Kallang Roar would return at the Suzuki Cup, where Singapore are in a tough group that also comprises Malaysia and Thailand.
Hassan revealed the coach has planned for the Lions to get training regularly at the new National Stadium -as frequently as "two or three times a week" - in a bid to get the players familiarised with the hybrid pitch.
"I say it again, we are selling a product and we must deliver a good one," said Stange.
"If our football is good, people will come to the stadium... (so) we want to deliver results.
"We want to win the Suzuki Cup. It's a tournament at home.
"And, for the first time since 1998, we will play without foreign-born players. For the last Suzuki Cup, we had five or six of them.
"Not now. We only have local boys. And that's the way we are going for now."
We need supporters and a full-house stadium, then it can be a Cauldron of Fear for our opponents... 30,000, I’m not very proud. It’s good but it’s the first (football) event at the new stadium and it should be full.
- National coach Bernd Stange