Team Singapore

Anu pledges to defeat Cambodia

Singapore midfielder M Anumanthan was so enraged after the 2-1 defeat by Myanmar that the 20-year-old created a mini-ruckus in the tunnel at the Jalan Besar Stadium last Thursday.

On the way back to the dressing room, he yanked aside a plastic-protected bench meant for the fourth official which was blocking his way.

Anu (above) was sheepish over the incident yesterday.

"I was just thinking how unfair football was," he told The New Paper, 24 hours before the Young Lions clash with Cambodia tonight.

"We tried so hard but still lost. And the goals we conceded were frustrating."

The Myanmar result is now history for the Singapore Under-23s as they prepare for their third Group A match.

But memories of an even earlier game still linger.

They lost 3-1 to the same Cambodia side in a friendly at Jalan Besar in March; a result which prompted widespread criticism of the team and coach Aide Iskandar.

The nightmare game was capped by the dismissals of defenders Shakir Hamzah and Sheikh Abdul Hadi.

"We became complacent after we scored early," recalled Anu.

"I guess we went in there thinking, it's Cambodia, (so) we should win. Then they scored once, twice and a third time.

"Each time they celebrated like they won the World Cup; it was quite demoralising.

"We won't be underestimating them again. This Cambodia team aren't bad at all. Their fighting spirit can be quite irritating for the opponents, if you know what I mean."

The past few days have been pretty solemn in the Singapore camp.

Although a draw against Cambodia would not be the end of the road - Singapore can still qualify for the last four if they beat Indonesia on Thursday - Anu believes anything less than three points would be a disaster.

"A draw... We're not even thinking about that," he said.

"The team had a chat after the Myanmar game. We picked ourselves up and the coaches told us that this must be the last time we are down like this."

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