Singapore's goalkeeper believes crunch match against Palestine will be decided by desire
Men's Football Group C
PALESTINE v SINGAPORE
(Today, 4pm, MediaCorp Okto)
Captaining Singapore's Asian Games squad here in Incheon, South Korea, Hassan Sunny has rediscovered his hunger for football - and is relishing the sensation.
"To be honest, it's been a while since I last played with a team that is so full of hunger and determination," he told The New Paper.
One of three over-aged players, alongside Baihakki Khaizan (30) and Afiq Yunos (23) in an Under-23 squad at the Asiad, the 30-year-old Hassan marshalled the team to a stunning come-from-behind 3-3 draw with Oman on Wednesday to stay alive in Group C.
This, after falling in heart-breaking fashion to Tajikistan 1-0 in their opening fixture last Sunday.
That result threatened to derail Singapore's hopes and effectively kill off their tournament before Friday's opening ceremony in South Korea.
"Against Oman, we played our hearts out, we gave our best, and everyone knows that. And maybe because of that, that draw felt like a win," said Hassan.
And this afternoon at the Ansan Wa Stadium comes the critical part of their mission to qualify for the Round of 16 - they must beat Palestine, and hope that the Oman-Tajikistan result plays in their favour.
DO OR DIE
It is a do-or-die mission.
"The Palestine match is now much more important than the last game; it will be like a cup final to us," said Warriors FC custodian Hassan.
"I just hope that we can bring the same attitude and the mindset that we had against Oman."
And he believes it all comes down to hunger.
"It will be about which team have the biggest heart," said Hassan.
"We know Palestine are a great team who have players willing to fight right till the end - and we need (to do) the same.
"We need to be better, to get a win."
With six points from their first two games, Palestine are already assured of qualification, a fact that may see them give their fringe players a run-out.
"Maybe they will be a bit more relaxed because they have already qualified to the next round. If so, we have to take advantage of that," said Hassan.
"For now, we want to keep the boys at ease, rest their minds.
"But come the match, Baihakki and I will make sure all of us are focused and hungry."