Team Singapore

Renewed hope for U-23s

It was a mixture of joy and relief, but coming from behind to draw 3-3 with Oman in the second Group C fixture of the Asian Games is just half of the job. 

Relieved and delighted, coach Aide Iskandar is already looking ahead to masterminding what will be an unlikely entry into the Round of 16 for the Singapore Under-23s. 

For that, kinks need to be ironed out as Singapore need to beat Palestine on Sunday to stand a chance of finishing in the top two in the group and advancing. 

"Immediately after the game, I told the boys that they can be happy with the result and the performance, but we must keep our feet on the ground, recover as fast as we can, and refocus for our next game," said the former Singapore captain. 

And he knows the few issues that need to be addressed. 

"We must stop conceding goals. We could've done better (in the situations the led to) goals that we conceded," said the 39-year-old, who will be fretting over injuries. 

Defender Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman went off injured in the 86th minute after taking a kick to the shin, while Khairul Nizam looked as if he had over-extended his left knee. These are in addition to the ankle injury that had already ruled midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin out of last night's game. 

Palestine qualified for the second round by virtue of winning both their games, and Aide wondered if they would let their reserves have a run out. 

Buoyed by what his team showed on the pitch last night, he said: "The boys showed a lot of self-belief and character... they did the nation proud. 

"We got one more game, let's hope."

- SHAMIR OSMAN